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Category: American Le Mans Series – LMP1

Benoit TreluyerAudi Sport trio Benoît Tréluyer, Marcel Fässler and Oliver Jarvis clinched victory in America’s most celebrated endurance race last weekend (March 16) following an intense final stint at the 12 Hours of Sebring. The Frenchman has thus added another of world motorsport’s most prestigious honours to his CV and helped confirm Audi Sport’s lofty ambitions for the season ahead.

After eleven hours of intense competition the final showdown took place between Benoît and fellow Audi driver Tom Kristensen, who was sharing with Allan McNish and Lucas di Grassi at the American classic. The deciding fight possessed all the suspense of a Hitchcock thriller and was made still more exhilarating by the Ingolstadt firm allowing their cars to race to the finish without team orders.

“Everything was decided during the closing stints when we had to put up a bit of a fight,” the Frenchman explains calmly. “We still had the advantage of a shorter refuelling period however, a bonus of around six seconds, which would have allowed us to win even if Tom had managed to overtake me during the penultimate stint. I took no risks when I re-joined the track and struggled to get my tyres up to temperature. In keeping with the usual approach, Audi did not issue team orders and it was up to us to sort it out on-track. It was a great race, very competitive and close-fought between both Audi cars. Fantastic!”

With significant changes arriving in US-based sportscar racing next year the 2013 event will remain forever engraved in the archives of this iconic American contest. An event rich in history, it has witnessed some of the sport’s finest drivers demonstrating their competitive abilities.

“My team-mates and I had only competed at Sebring once before (2012) and this year was the final chance to enter with an LMP1 car, so the whole team was determined to take victory. With half of the race run we saw that we had a good chance to achieve our goal. When we arrived here, we knew that the 2013-spec R18 e-tron quattro being run by Tom, Allan and Lucas was faster. Unfortunately, our team-mates’ preparations were delayed by an off-track excursion during first practice which cost them quite a lot of time. They were not able to put as much work into set-up as we were and, on top of that, Marcel, (race engineer) Leena Gade and I had the advantage of knowing our 2012-spec R18 e-tron quattro extremely well. We set it up nicely with a good balance to compensate for the lack of performance we had compared with the new car.”

This balance was to serve Fässler well in qualifying as he delivered a brilliant performance to clinch pole and set a new lap record for the Florida circuit.

“Marcel was on fire this weekend! Along with Leena, I really felt he was on the case and that he could take pole. He accepted the challenge and produced a mega time. Allan did two more laps in an effort to beat Marcel, but he couldn’t quite manage it. Olly – who joined us in place of André (Lotterer) – also did a great job. Marcel and I were thinking of our regular team-mate this weekend as we missed him a lot, but André showed what a fantastic team player he is by giving up his seat for Olly to allow him more track time. It was not an easy call for him as this is the last time that we’ll race at Sebring. Olly thanked him in the best way possible, delivering a great performance during the week and a superb night stint which allowed us to get the edge over the sister car and maintain our advantage.”

Benoît’s next competitive outing will be during the season-opening FIA World Endurance Championship round when the Audi Sport team will take on LMP1 class rivals Toyota in the 6 Hours of Silverstone (April 14).

“It’s going to be a very challenging season and we will need to grab every possible victory with both hands,” warns Benoît. “The level of competition should be extremely high as Toyota has worked hard over the winter, so we will have to continue to do the same. The fact that the new R18 e-tron quattro was able to finish the 12 Hours of Sebring during what represented its first real endurance test is very promising. Now we must keep up the development work for the season ahead.”

Having given the 2012 car a winning end to its competitive career, Benoît and his team-mates will next aim to record the new spec machine’s first victory at the Silverstone contest.

“In order to fine tune our preparations, we’re staying in Sebring for a few more days,” concludes the 2012 World Champion, who will then take a detour through Toronto to attend a round of the AMA Supercross series, a sport of which he is a big fan. It will represent a final opportunity for Benoît to catch his breath before the curtain comes up on the 2013 FIA World Endurance Championship.

Kyle MarcelliRising Canadian talent Kyle Marcelli continues the fast track to international racing stardom as he recently completed a very successful test behind the wheel of Dublin, Ohio based Intersport Racings American LeMans Series LMP1 race car.

Marcelli a native of Barrie, Ontario showed very well in his debut test this past Tuesday held at the Mid-Ohio sports car course. Marcelli has been driving the number 37 Intersport Racing entry competing in the IMSA Lites Championship thus far in 2009. After multiple podium finishes including victory at New Jersey Motorsports Park the teenager has been given the opportunity that every driver dreams of, a chance to prove himself at the pinnacle of sports car racing, the American LeMans Series.

“I’ve been very fortunate to find a home for 2009 under the Intersport Racing banner and I can’t thank Jon and Clint Field enough for this opportunity. We’ve built a great relationship over the course of the season and I’m really looking forward to continuing working with them.” Said Kyle Marcelli

Eagerly taking the opportunity, Marcelli was much energized to move forward and step into the teams 850HP AER powered Lola LMP1 prototype. Arriving Monday afternoon, Marcelli was fitted into the race car and educated on the many controls and characteristics before a full day of testing Tuesday. The weather forecasts were predicting thunderstorms; however with good fortune it was under overcasts skies that Marcelli and the Intersport Racing were able to complete a very successful day of testing. Working hard with the engineers as well as gaining valuable knowledge from Jon and Clint Field, Kyle was quickly feeling comfortable in the race car and consistently laying down very competitive lap times around the 2.5 mile circuit.

“The car was simply amazing. My first on track session the circuit was a little damp and I was sent out on wet tires. I was mainly focused on getting comfortable in the new car. After that the team sent me out on new dry tires and I was able to begin to push. The power, brakes and overall grip of the race car was like none other. The test was a huge success.” Stated Marcelli

“We were all very impressed with Kyle’s ability to adapt to the car as quick as he did and produce very competitive lap times. His feedback was very precise and helpful to the team which allowed us to make good improvement to the overall performance of the race car.”

“Kyle is a big asset to the team and we are very much looking forward to growing our relationship and having him apart of our success at Intersport Racing.” Said Owner Clint Field.