Di Grassi had arrived in Canada for the final weekend with a ten-point deficit to Renault driver Sébastian Buemi. While the Swiss was ostensibly tense and, following an accident in free practice, had a horrible day on Saturday, di Grassi made no mistakes and converted his deficit with his pole position and lights-to-flag victory in an 18-point advantage.
On Sunday, di Grassi and his teammate Daniel Abt started from the third row while Buemi only took position 14 in qualifying. Following a turbulent starting phase, di Grassi and Abt dropped to positions nine and ten some of the time but, also thanks to clever energy management, were able to fight back to positions six and seven. As a result, Team ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport secured the vice-championship in the teams’ classification as well.
“Today is the best day in my career,” the new Formula E Champion enthused after the race. “I’ve believed in Formula E from day one because the world, including motorsport, is changing. Three years ago, we won the first Formula E race in Beijing and now finally the title as well. ABT Sportsline, Schaeffler and Audi Sport have done a perfect job – not least after the races in New York where we weren’t so strong. Here in Montreal, on the best race track Formula E has ever seen, we were fast from the beginning.”
Following third place in Formula E’s inaugural year and the vice-championship last year, Lucas di Grassi is the third champion in the world’s first all-electric racing series and, with a total of six victories and 20 podium results in 33 races, one of the most successful Formula E campaigners. In the 2016/2017 season, the Audi driver won two races, clinched three pole positions and seven podium places in twelve races. Only in Paris, di Grassi scored no points. In the end, this consistency was decisive in the title race, although his comebacks at the season opener in Hong Kong and on clinching victory in Mexico will remain equally unforgotten.
Fred Thalamy, Team Director Audi Sport Team Saintéloc: “This victory is incredible. For us, it’s like Christmas in July! You just can’t describe this feeling. The race was a dream. The car was perfect and incredibly reliable. We didn’t have the slightest problem.”
Jules Gounon (Audi R8 LMS #25): “Sensational. I’m speechless. Audi and our team did a fantastic job. I can’t say thank you often enough – also to Christopher (Haase) and Markus (Winkelhock). They drove sensationally. We had to fight like lions after having lost a lap due to a loose wheel nut. The strategists from Audi and Saintéloc Racing have played a major part in this success as well.”
Christopher Haase (Audi R8 LMS #25): “Awesome! We were two laps behind at the beginning of the night and recovered again. It was such a tough race. I could hardly get out of the car. This is a special moment in my career because this was a race I wanted to win at all costs. On the last two laps, I tried to reduce my pace a little and keep off the curbs. That’s how we did it.”
Markus Winkelhock (Audi R8 LMS #25): “It’s a fantastic feeling. Winning at the Nürburgring and at Spa in a single year is really special. I’ve been able to experience this before with Audi in 2014. I’m just happy, also for Audi Sport customer racing and for Audi Sport Team Saintéloc and the mechanics. The 24 Hours of Spa is the most powerful GT race in the world. That’s what makes this victory so special. Twelve hours ago, we were two laps behind due to a problem during the pit stop, had to return to the pits and lost a minute and a half. Still winning the race after that is simply very cool.”
Audi Sport Team Saintéloc in its first factory-backed commitment with Audi Sport customer racing shone with a convincing performance. In the world’s toughest GT3 race, the number 25 Audi R8 LMS ran impeccably, its drivers having stayed clear of all trouble and ending the race without any sporting penalties. In the penultimate hour of the race, Christopher Haase chased leader Raffaele Marciello over several laps until the Italian pitted. Following his own final service and the stops of his rivals, the 29-year-old Audi Sport campaigner took the lead and went on to celebrate his first victory at Spa. For Jules Gounon from the South of France, this success marked the first one he has clinched in this race and together with Audi as well. Markus Winkelhock had previously won the iconic event in the Ardennes with Audi in 2014. In addition, this was the second 24-hour race victory claimed by the 37-year-old professional race driver this season following his success at the Nürburgring in May. Sébastien Chetail, who formed Saintéloc Racing in 2004, and his squad celebrated the first-ever 24-hour success in their team’s history.
“Sincere congratulations to the victorious drivers and the team on this outstanding performance,” said Chris Reinke, Head of Audi Sport customer racing. “This was a particularly tough edition of the 24 Hours of Spa because, due to a very good balance of performance, the Stéphane Ratel organization and Claude Surmont managed to create a field that has been as level as hardly ever before. This was hard work for all the teams because no-one dominated this race. What we saw this weekend was perfect advertising for GT3 racing.”
The eleventh and penultimate round in the Canadian metropolis was perfect advertising for the Formula E electric racing series, with Audi driver Lucas di Grassi as the leader all day. The 32-year-old secured pole position at noon, plus the first three points. In the 35-lap race, the Brazilian clinched a lights-to-flag victory. After having gained a large advantage in the first two thirds of the race, he lost it during a safety car period, but still was 0.350 seconds ahead on seeing the checkered flag, earning 25 points for his second victory this season. Due to the previous leader of the standings, Sébastien Buemi, only finishing fourth, di Grassi will start the last race of the 2016/2017 season with a six-point advantage and is the leader of the standings for the first time this season.
29 points in total will still be awarded in Sunday’s race – three for pole, 25 for a race victory and one for the fastest race lap. “Having scored 28 points, this has arguably been my best day in Formula E. And it came at exactly the right time. Thank you to my team that has invested so many hours in finding out why New York didn’t go so well,” di Grassi said after the race. “Tomorrow, we’re going to do what we always do: stay calm and focused and battle up until the very last lap.
In the late afternoon (5.45 p.m.) of the first matchday, Atlético de Madrid will go up against SSC Napoli, and subsequently (8.30 p.m.), Liverpool will contest its first match in Munich for 36 years. Its semi-final opponent will be FC Bayern. On August 2, the two losing teams will first play in the third-place play-off, before the final kicks off in the evening. Tickets still remain for both days and are available online at audicup.com or at the stadium.
Apart from the main matches, fans can expect a full program at the Audi Cup. For example, visitors can test out their own football skills at the Audi Intelligence Court. Teams of two can face each other on a small playing field. A special tracking system records the individual performance ratings of the players and compiles them at the end of the game in a single figure. With similar technology, namely the Audi Player Index, those in charge of the Audi Cup can determine the Man of the Match in each of the professional games.
At the Audi #SuperQ, selected spectators will compete in the first virtual race in a football stadium with World Rallycross champion Mattias Ekström. In the run-up to the Audi Cup, the Swede set a target time on a real race track with his 560 hp Audi S1 EKS RX quattro. The circuit was then digitalized. Thanks to Virtual Reality, the participants in the Allianz Arena can compete against Ekström.
Whether live at the stadium or at home – at audicup.com fans can find stories, news and photos of the tournament and get a glimpse behind the scenes. In addition, for the first time they can get information about the proceedings via Chatbot. The interactive communication platform, available at audicup.com, answers the user’s questions about the teams and players, or provides practical information, for example on the parking situation around the Allianz Arena.