Audi: full speed ahead in motorsport too
2012 FIA World Endurance Champions Audi made several announcments at the end of season celebrations at their headquarters in Ingolstadt, including two R18 e-tron quattros for the defence of the world crown and a third car at 90th anniversary running of the 24 Heures du Mans in June. They also announced one car would possibly compete at the 12 Hours of Sebring in March, which has been replaced on the 2013 FIA WEC calendar in favour of the 6 Hours of Austin in September.
"Successful motorsport is part of our brand DNA," stated Wolfgang Dürheimer, Member of the Management Board for Technical Development at AUDI AG, on Wednesday night at the "Audi Sport Finale" held at the Audi Forum Ingolstadt. "The victories on the world’s race tracks underscore our technical expertise in a particularly authentic way - and they strengthen our position on the most important world markets."
Three hybrid race cars at Le Mans
In the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC), Audi is competing as the title defender in 2013. Audi Sport Team Joest will be fielding two updated Audi R18 e-tron quattro cars, a third R18 e-tron quattro will be running at the Le Mans 24 Hours and the WEC race at Spa.
At Le Mans and in the WEC, Audi is thus exclusively banking on hybrid technology that was successfully introduced in 2012. The flywheel energy storage system is becoming even more powerful without any substantial increase in weight and size. Strictly in terms of its exterior, the Audi R18 e-tron quattro will hardly differ from this year’s winning car although numerous technical innovations are again assembled under the vehicle’s ultra-light carbon fiber skin. In a parallel project, Audi Sport is already intensively working on the successor car for the new LMP1 regulations that will come into effect as of 2014.
The Audi driver lineup for the WEC and Le Mans in 2013 consists of the current World Champions Marcel Fässler (Switzerland), André Lotterer (Germany) and Benoît Tréluyer (France) plus new signing Lucas di Grassi (Brazil), Loïc Duval (France), Marc Gené (Spain), Oliver Jarvis (Great Britain), Le Mans record winner Tom Kristensen (Denmark) and Allan McNish (Scotland).
Strong line-up at Daytona 24 Hours
Factory drivers from the WEC and the DTM are playing a role in AUDI AG’s customer sport program as well. In the 24-hour race at Daytona (Florida) on January 26/27, Filipe Albuquerque, Oliver Jarvis and Edoardo Mortara will be driving an Audi R8 GRAND-AM of the Alex Job Racing team. The cockpits of two other R8 cars will be occupied by high-caliber racers as well. Marc Basseng, René Rast and Frank Stippler will be driving for APR Motorsport, Frank Biela, Christopher Haase and GT1 World Champion Markus Winkelhock for Rum Bum Racing. In addition, each squad will be joined by an American driver.
Intensified commitment in the United States GRAND-AM Series
With the 24-hour race at Daytona and an intensified commitment in the GRAND-AM Series, Audi is ringing in its return to US racing. In the United States, the brand with the four rings is recording stronger growth than the US market as a whole, particularly in the prestigious large-premium-car segment. The racing activities in the United States are intended to support this trend over the long run.
Therefore, an entry of the Audi R18 e-tron quattro in the 12-hour race at Sebring (Florida), which Audi has won on ten occasions, on March 16 is in planning as well. "It looks like this may be the last opportunity to compete with an LMP1 car at Sebring," says Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. "We’d really like to use this chance and say goodbye to the fans with a nice showing after our fantastic success story in recent years."
This may not have to be a final farewell, though. In 2014, the GRAND-AM Series and the American Le Mans Series will merge to form a new North American Sports Car Championship that might be of interest to Audi. Furthermore, the US fans will have another opportunity in 2013 to watch the Audi R18 e-tron in action as the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) will visit Austin (Texas) on September 22.
PRESS RELEASE COURTESY OF AUDI PRESS OFFICE