Audi dominates first Sebring test

Audi's new R15 TDI made a stunning debut on the first day of official testing for the Sebring 12 Hours, comfortably out-pacing rivals Peugeot and Acura on Monday

Audi dominates first Sebring test

The No.2 R15 of Allan McNish, Tom Kristensen and Dindo Capello lapped in 1m43.596s, half a second quicker than team-mates Marco Werner, Lucas Luhr and Mike Rockenfeller, and 1.406s clear of Sebastien Bourdais and Stephane Sarrazin in the best of the evenly-matched Peugeots.

While both Audi and Peugeot had already taken part in private tests at the track over the weekend, Acura did not start running until the official opening day yesterday. The De Ferran Motorsports car was fifth, within a tenth of a second of the two Peugoets, and 0.7s faster than the Highcroft Acura.

McNish said the new Audi already felt like a major step forward over its predecessor.

"It's the first time we've actually seen the Acura running and the updated Peugeot as well as us, so we've had the first feelings of relative performance, and the first feelings of the R15 on a circuit we know very well," he said.

"The car feels more agile, it feels more reactive, especially at high speed and through Turn 1, which is a very bumpy corner, it's more stable than the R10 was. We're actually going through there a gear higher.

"We've got a better response from the engine as well. I think the V10 being a bit shorter and lighter is allowing the chassis to be more agile in the other parts of the circuit.

"Performance-wise, what we've seen to date is that we're a little bit ahead of Peugeot on short runs and also on long runs. Acura are very early in their running because they didn't run on Saturday, so I think we've got to wait until Tuesday or Wednesday to see their full potential."

Highcroft driver Brabham is expecting the diesel teams to be tough to beat this weekend.

"We have a steep mountain to climb against Audi and Peugeot here this weekend but we are up for the challenge," he said.

"It is a step by step process for us. The car is getting more and more reliable and we only had one small issue this morning. Having a trouble free run is the key thing we need to focus on."

The No.16 Dyson Lola-Mazda of Andy Lally, Chris Dyson and Guy Smith was the only LMP2 car to run on the first day, lapping 7s slower than the Audis.

FIA GT regular Advanced Engineering set the fastest time in GT2 with its Ferrari, which boasts Gianmaria Bruni on its driving strength for this event, ahead of the No.87 Farnbacher Loles Porsche and Risi's two Ferraris. The new Rahal Letterman BMWs were 1.3s off the pace on day one.

"We are still doing some development, and that is going along nicely," said BMW driver Dirk Muller. "There is no grip yet this early in the week."

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