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05.09.2012, 18:51:44 cet
News

The Audi team of Rinaldo Capello, Michele Alboreto and Laurent Aiello took victory Saturday in the closest finish in the 49-year history of the Superflo 12 Hours At Sebring sports car endurance race. The race was run from start to finish without a caution period and in front of a crowd estimated at 168,000, the largest sports car race attendance ever in the United States.

Capello, driving the final stint, beat Audi teammate Tom Kristensen by .482 second at the finish. Kristensen, who had been leading, was penalized for exceeding the pit road speed limit on his final pit stop, which came with 40 minutes remaining in the race. He made up a deficit of almost 25 seconds on the 3.7-mile Sebring International Raceway before falling short at the end. Kristensen and co-drivers Frank Biela and Emanuele Pirro had been going for their second straight win in the Sebring event, and Kristensen had been going for his third consecutive.

The two Infineon Audi R8s were fighting for victory for the whole twelve hour distance. Despite the enormous strain, the cars did not suffer from any severe difficulties. The Infineon Audi R8 #1 just had its front brake discs replaced shortly after half distance, the companion car had two pit stops because of a malfunction in the engine’s electrics.

Audi took the top four spots, with the private entry driven by Andy Wallace, Dorsey Schroeder and Ralf Kelleners finishing third and the car of Stefan Johanssen and Guy Smith fourth.

Fosti con me nel pericolo e nella vittoria
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Pos

 # Driver(s) Lap Interval Car Make Total Stops

1

1 Alboreto/Capello/Aiello 370 -- Audi R8 0:17:25.45

2

2 Biela/Kristensen/Pirro 370 0:00.482 Audi R8 0:18:24.24

3

38 Kelleners/Schroeder/Wallace 366 4 Laps Audi R8 0:18:45.61

4

18 Johansson/Smith 362 8 Laps Audi R8 0:30:27.08

5

37 Dayton/Field 332 38 Laps Lola B2K 0:49:04.74

Laurent Aiello (#1)
“It was a very tough race. We had some bad luck, but the other team had some as well. Now I’m so happy. It has been a difficult week for us because in the beginning we were struggling a little bit with the setup, but for the race the car was absolutely perfect.”

Michele Alboreto (#1)
“It is really amazing: Every time I come to the United States, I win a race. Now I’m looking forward very much to the rest of the season, especially Le Mans. After this success my goal is clear: Winning Sebring and Le Mans in a row is a great dream for me.”

Rinaldo Capello (#1)
“This was a great day. No question that was the best race I have ever done in a sportscar in my whole life. I could push at every time, even in the night. Especially at the end, when I got new tires, I could do perfect lap times. It was simply fantastic.”

Tom Kristensen (#2)
“It was an incredibly fast race without yellow flags. It was real racing until the end. I won this race twice and would have been happy to win it three times in a row. The stop-and-go-penalty is a judgement call. I don’t know if I really braked to late at the pit entrance. We have to see the data from the telemetry.”

Frank Biela (#2)
“This was an exciting and tight race. For Audi it is a brillant result. After the last pit stop we were narrowly in front. But, unfortunately Tom had to come in for a stop-and-go-penalty because of speeding in the pit lane. This can happen.”

Emanuele Pirro (#2)
“Only one car can win, so we have to be happy with the result, even if it is hard to finish second. We lost time twice because of electrical problems and had some bad luck in the end. It was a tough race and I am proud of the result.”

Dr Wolfgang Ullrich, Head of Audi Sport
“Today we had a real hot fight in our team over twelve hours. We see this race also as a preparation for Le Mans and you learn nothing if you don’t push. The two privateer teams were very close to us. So we never even thought about relaxing.”

Reinhold Joest, Team Director Audi Sport North America
“Team and drivers have shown a great performance today. I think the spectators saw an exciting show: At one time the car number one was leading, and in the next moment it was number two – even we could not predict the winner until the very end. We learned that we have a lot of work to do for Le Mans.”