Audi is playing catch up against its arch rivals Toyota after a disastrous start to the 2014 FIA World Endurance Championship at Silverstone saw both of its cars crash out before half-distance.

In the year where it is looking to defend its WEC title against stiff competition from Toyota and Porsche, Audi came into the six hour race looking good in terms of outright pace and reliability.

However, its first set-back would come after just 45mins when team newcomer Lucas di Grassi - replacing Allan McNish in the No.1 car - lost the rear of the R18 e-tron coming out of Woodcote and struck the barrier. Despite eventually recovering to the pit lane, di Grassi and team-matesTom Kristensen and Loic Duval were forced to retire.

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The No.2 car, meanwhile, assumed the lead early on, but an erroneous decision to not bring the car in when rain began falling would prove costly as Andre Lotterer - already seemingly struggling for grip - spun at Stowe and lost four laps. Worse was to follow later, however, when Benoit Treluyer spun the car on the slippery kerb and collected the inside barrier at Copse, signalling another DNF.

A rare non-score for the manufacturer on a day when Toyota sealed an impressive 1-2 result, Audi Motorsport manager Ralf Juttner admits the failure - and the heavy damage - leave an 'extremely bitter' taste.

"Losing both cars in a race due to accidents is extremely bitter. It's the first time since Road Atlanta 2011 that we're going home from a race with the Le Mans prototypes without having scored a single point. But the performance at the beginning of the race was good.

"When it started to rain we trusted our weather radar and waited too long before changing the tires. That was our mistake and, in retrospect, an unnecessary risk. It really hit us at full force: Both cars slipped off track. The car of Lucas (di Grassi) was so heavily damaged that we had to take it out of the race. Andr? (Lotterer) was able to continue driving but lost a lot of time.

"Although afterwards we played it safe with the tyres and Beno?t Tr?luyer was running on intermediates that worked well, he slipped off track, too. As both cars were heavily damaged, we're in for a real marathon run before the next WEC race at Spa."