AUDI VICTORY AT SEBRING
Britain’s Oliver Jarvis claimed his maiden and Audi’s 11th race victory in the Sebring 12 Hour sportscar endurance race on Saturday 16 March.
Jarvis, from Burwell near Newmarket, plus Marcel Fässler (CH) and Benoît Tréluyer (F), swept their hybrid-diesel Audi R18 e-tron quattro to a narrow 7.679secs victory after an intense, race-long duel with the “sister” Audi of Dumfries-born Allan McNish plus co-drivers Tom Kristensen (DK) and Lucas di Grassi as the dominant Audi sportscars led all 364-laps.
Jarvis commented: “What a start to the season – it’s beyond a dream to win on my Sebring race debut and my first race in the hybrid diesel Audi.
“My first ever race in America was in January and I won the GT class at the Daytona 24 Hours and now to win at Sebring is simply incredible.”
Tréluyer started from pole-position and led for the opening 94mins until Fässler, who had set a record qualifying lap the previous day, was overtaken by the “sister” McNish/Kristensen/di Grassi Audi.
Fässler was back ahead when McNish was served with a stop-go penalty and a 60secs “hold” for avoidable contact with a slower car with the Swiss driver handing over to Jarvis at one-quarter distance.
Jarvis resumed 15secs behind leader McNish and swept back in to the lead 20mins later when the Scot pitted – Oliver holding the lead until eight minutes before pitting after a 90mins stint behind the wheel.
Debris and an off-track excursion from the incredibly bumpy track damaged the Audi’s underfloor section costing time for repairs in the pits – the only issue to affect the winning car.
Jarvis returned to the action with 2.5hrs remaining taking over from Fässler, placed second but was into the lead 45mins later continuing this epic, no holds barred battle that had raged from the start between the two Audi sportscars.
Tréluyer took over with 75mins remaining, Jarvis having driven an inspiring 85min stint, the Frenchman a mere 2.683secs ahead of Kristensen.
The pair were separated by less than one second with under an hour to run – and at times raced side-by-side – Tréluyer ultimately crossing the finish line 7.679secs ahead of Kristensen.
McNish reflected: “It was a fantastic race, a real battle from start to finish over 12 hours. I was personally really pleased with my own performance because I had six very good stints behind the wheel and so am delighted with the way I’ve started the 2013 season.
“Lucas and Tom both raced superbly but unfortunately we lost a little bit of speed in the car halfway through the race. Congratulations to our ‘sister’ car, they did a great job.
“We came to Sebring hoping to put on a good race for the fans on the R18 e-tron quattro’s debut in North America and they certainly got it!”
The 61st running of the annual race in Florida is Audi’s last in the foreseeable future due to a change in regulations next year.
Audi defends its Drivers’ and Manufacturers’ titles in the FIA World Endurance Championship that gets underway at Silverstone (14 April) while Jarvis’s next scheduled WEC race is at Spa (Bel) on 4 May prior to the Le Mans 24 Hours (22-23 June).
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