It was a short weekend in Spa for the second round of the FIA World Endurance Championship. With a two-day event, it made for a lot of stress.
Track time was the same as all of the other events but there weren’t three free practice sessions, so that meant you had to compromise the changes done on these complicated cars.
With the rain Friday morning, we were fast but when you considered the conditions, the Toyotas were really strong as well. There was no doubt that we had absolutely no chance in sectors 1 and 3 of the circuit.
We were there with a car with the Le Mans aero package (the sister No. 3 Audi) and they even had no chance in the straight as well, particularly to the Porsche, which is a rocket ship.
I would say that they’re in a different class. When they don’t have any reliability problems, they’d win easily. They definitely have put themselves in as favorites, even though Toyota has clearly won the first two races.
For us, we can be very proud. The engineers and mechanics have worked in double shifts to make these complicated cars ready. For our crew, everything worked brilliantly, like in Silverstone. But this past weekend, I really can say that we did a perfect job.
Lucas, Loic and myself were within one-tenth of the average stint and fastest lap we have done. We have extracted the maximum of the car over the entire six hours. We were lucky to have finished second.
In that sense, I’m very proud and happy about that.
We had to push so hard. Momentum is very important for us because, while we are accelerating well, we are a sitting duck at top speed. So we had to get all of the traffic out of the way and ignore it and keep the momentum going.
Some times, we went a little bit wide just trying to keep up the momentum. We were pushing hard. It was a bit difficult to find the rhythm in the first stints, as always, as you were pushing. I was having quite some oversteer.
It leveled out in the second stint and I found the car to be a little bit better. When Loic gave me the car, it was in a good position but I was able to take a good chunk of time out of Nakajima and pass him just before I gave the car to Lucas.
For the rest of the race, my teammates did a brilliant job, finishing just six seconds ahead of them in the end.
Going into Le Mans, it’s clear that we’re not favorites. You have to look at Porsche and Toyota. One had pole and the other won at Spa.
We have some testing planned but there’s a limit of how much you can do in such a short period of time. But there’s no doubt we will work incredibly hard. There’s a lot of intelligent and good people at Audi Sport.
However, finding a lot more power from the 2MJ hybrid system we have or the air that’s allowed in our engine, will be tough.
We cannot spell to give up at all and look forward to Le Mans, as always. We have been at Le Mans before as favorites or not, but we many times not had the fastest car.
But it’s a 24-hour race where you have to deliver the best you can. That’s very nice to have driven just a month before with two teammates, our mechanics and team that has done a brilliant job.
That’s something we will take with us in the next weeks, days and hours before Le Mans.