Allan McNish, Tom Kristensen and Rinaldo Capello took Audi's 10th victory in the Sebring 12 Hours in the opening round of the new FIA World Endurance Championship.
The trio notched up their third victory together in the US enduro with a faultless performance aboard their Audi R18. They led for much of the distance on the way to a four-lap victory over team-mates Timo Bernhard, Romain Dumas and Loic Duval.
The second-placed Audi remained in the hunt in the hands of the Bernhard into the closing stages of the race before a handling problem dropped the car off the lead lap. A clash with a slower car subsequently cost the car three laps to repair.
McNish said: "This is a fantastic result for Tom, Dindo and I. We had a tough year in 2011, so to start the new world championship with a victory is superb."
The third Audi, shared by Andre Lotterer, Benoit Treluyer and Marcel Fassler dropped out of contention late in the sixth hour when problems with the electrical gearshift stranded the car in third gear. The car had to return to the paddock for repairs and ended up 15 laps down in 16th place.
The Muscle Milk Honda Performance Development ARX-03a looked safe in third place as the race drew to its conclusion. A refueling valve failure however meant the car could not take on petrol, which despite Heath Robinson repairs eventually forced the retirement of the car driven by Klaus Graf, Lucas Luhr and Simon Pagenaud.
The JRM-Racing HPD had challenged the Muscle Milk entry for third place prior to suspension problems. A failure meant the car driven by David Brabham, Peter Dumbreck and Karun Chandhok could finish no better than 17th.
Problems for the LMP1 privateers allowed the LMP2 class winner to finish on the overall podium. Stephane Sarrazin came out on top in a thrilling battle between two HPD ARX-03bs, the Frenchman getting the better of Level 5 Motorsports driver Joao Barbosa in the closing stages.
The GT class was won by the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing BMW driven by Joey Hand, Dirk Muller and Jonathan Summerton. Hand came out on top in a thrilling final-hour battle with Olivier Beretta's AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia.
Beretta, who was on fresh tyres, appeared to have the pace to overtake the double-stinting BMW, but locked up at the hairpin when he made his move in the dying stages.
Both the BMW and the Ferrari were involved in a last lap melee and went off the track. Hand held on to take the victory, but Beretta lost second to the the Chevrolet Corvette driven by Jan Magnussen.
Pos Cl Drivers Team/Car Laps 1. P1 McNish/Kristensen/Capello Audi 325 2. P1 Bernhard/Dumas/Duval Audi 321 3. P2 Potolicchio/Dalziel/Sarrazin Starworks HPD 319 4. P2 Tucker/Bouchut/Barbosa Level 5 HPD 319 5. P2 Nicolet/Lahaye/Pla OAK Morgan-Judd 318 6. P1 Collard/Boullion/Jousse Pescarolo-Judd 318 7. P2 Companc/Kaffer/Ayari Pecom ORECA-Nissan 317 8. P1 Dyson/Smith/Kane Dyson Lola-Mazda 317 9. P2 Zugel/Gonzalez/Julian Greaves Zytek-Nissan 316 10. P1 Leventis/Watts/Kane Strakka HPD 316 11. P2 Martin/Kerr/Graves ADR-Delta ORECA-Nissan 315 12. PC Popow/Viso/Friselle CORE FLM 312 13. PC Leitzinger/Dobson/Junco PR1 FLM 311 14. P2 Holzer/Shultis/Moro Lotus Lola 310 15. PC Bennett/Braun/Lux CORE FLM 310 16. P1 Lotterer/Treluyer/Fassler Audi 310 17. P1 Brabham/Chandhok/Dumbreck JRM HPD 309 18. GT Hand/Müller/Summerton RLL BMW 307 19. GT Magnussen/Garcia/Taylor Corvette 307 20. GT Bertolini/Beretta/Cioci AF Corse Ferrari 307 21. GT Gavin/Milner/Westbrook Corvette 307 22. GT Müller/Auberlen/Alzen RLL BMW 307 23. GT Lietz/Lieb/Pilet Felbermayr Porsche 306 24. GT Miller/Maassen/Bell Miller Porsche 303 25. PC Ducote/Echeverria/Sanchez Merchant FLM 303 26. GT Law/Neiman/Lally Flying Lizard Porsche 303 27. GT Brown/Segal/Lazzaro Extreme Speed Ferrari 303 28. P1 Luhr/Graf/Pagenaud Pickett HPD 302 29. GTE-AM Ried/Roda/Ruberti Felbermayr Porsche 298 30. P2 Pappas/Curtis/Fogarty Black Swan Lola-HPD 298 31. GTE-AM Bourret/Gibon/Belloc Larbre Corvette 297 32. P1 Prost/Jani/Heidfeld Rebellion Lola-Toyota 296 33. GTC Sweedler/Bell/von Moltke Alex Job Porsche 292 34. GT Mucke/Fernandez/Turner Aston Martin 292 35. GTC MacNeil/Keen/Dumoulin Alex Job Porsche 291 36. P1 Belicchi/Primat/Bleekemolen Rebellion Lola-Toyota 291 37. GTC LeSaffre/Faulkner/Bleekemolen Green Hornet Porsche 290 38. GT Henzler/Sellers/Ragginger Falken Porsche 290 39. GTE-AM Bornhauser/Canal/Lamy Larbre Corvette 288 40. GTC Pumpelly/di Guida/Bunting TRG Porsche 287 41. GTE-AM Kauffman/Waltrip/Aguas AF Corse Ferrari 283 42. PC Guasch/Gidley/Wills Pickett FLM 282 43. GTC Cumming/Bullitt/Estre JDX Porsche 282 44. P2 Plowman/Hansson/Dracone Conquest Morgan-Judd 281 45. GTC Faieta/Avenatti/Wagner Competition Porsche 279 46. GT Sharp/van Overbeek/Cosmo Extreme Speed Ferrari 278 47. P2 Giroix/Jousse/Johansson Gulf Lola-Nissan 277 48. GTC Sofronas/Welch/Villeneuve GMC Porsche 276 49. PC Nicolosi/Vera/Matos Performance Tech FLM 274 50. GTE-AM Krohn/Jonsson/Rugolo Krohn Ferrari 265 51. PC Junqueira/Drissi/Gonzalez RSR FLM 255 52. GTE-AM Binnie/Palttala/Camathias JWA-Avila Porsche 252 53. GT Bergmeister/Long/Holzer Flying Lizard Porsche 251 54. GTC Benitez/Benitez/Thiim NGT Porsche 236 55. P1 Moreau/Baguette/Kraihamer OAK Pescarolo-Judd 233 56. GT Fisichella/Bruni/Vilander AF Corse Ferrari 215 57. GTC Cisneros/Edwards/Kauffmann NGT Porsche 205 58. PC Richard/Ende/Cameron Dempsey FLM 173 59. P2 Tucker/Diaz/Hunter-Reay Level 5 HPD 85 60. P2 Tresson/Mailleux/Lombard Signatech ORECA-Nissan 85 61. GT Makowiecki/Melo/Vernay Luxury Ferrari 83 62. PC Marcelli/Downs/Stirling Merchant FLM 38 63. GTE-AM Ehret/Farnbacher/Jakubowski Luxury Ferrari 0 DNS. P2 Fatien/Ihara/Deletraz Gulf Lola-Nissan