Audi to field two R18 e-tron quattros in Bahrain
As the FIA World Endurance Championship moves well into its second half of the season, the competition is intensifying between the two Audi driver line-ups for supremacy in the Drivers’ Championship points table. The German marque will therefore be fielding two Audi R18 e-tron quattros for the drivers of both the No.1 and No.2 cars to guarantee absolute equality of opportunity.
The 6 Hours of Bahrain, the sixth round of the FIA World Endurance Championship, will see Tom Kristensen and Allan McNish racing an R18 e-tron quattro for the first time since Le Mans in June, the veteran partnership having made their debut with the hybrid race car at Spa Francorchamps, the FIA WEC’s second round.
Audi entered the 2012 endurance racing season with two different vehicle concepts. The Audi R18 ultra makes full use of the potential of a conventionally powered LMP sports car with a TDI engine, whereas the R18 e-tron quattro is the brand’s first hybrid race car. The R18 e-tron quattro made history by achieving the first victory of a hybrid vehicle at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and subsequently won the 6-hour race at Silverstone while the R18 ultra managed to score a debut victory at Spa.
Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport): "We decided to compete with two hybrid vehicles in Bahrain. Our analysis has shown that we’ve got an advantage in traffic with the R18 e-tron quattro. It makes it easier for our drivers to overtake other vehicles. This means that with two hybrid vehicles we’re in a better position in the battle with Toyota. At the same time, we’re giving both our driver teams identical material in the battle for the title. Bahrain will be a completely different race than the previous rounds. We’re expecting very high temperatures. Unlike the most recent round in Brazil, Bahrain also takes a high toll on the brakes, which require good cooling. Handling the tires will be crucial too."
Tom Kristensen, No.2 Audi R18 e-tron quattro: “In Bahrain, a large number of challenges are awaiting us that we’re all looking forward to. It starts with the hot climate, but the desert sand and driving in darkness are special too. Allan and I are expecting a lot of the R18 e-tron quattro after we were able to make good use of the car’s strengths at Le Mans. That’ll hopefully help us in the battle for the title.”
Allan McNish, No. 2 Audi R18 e-tron quattro: “I think the race in Bahrain will be a lot different from our run in Brazil. With Le Mans, Silverstone and Interlagos, we’ve been experiencing a nice variety since June, and now something completely different is coming up again. Temperatures in the Middle East at this time of year can go up to 35 or 40 degrees. We’ll only be driving about an hour and a half or a maximum of two hours in daylight. But even when it’s dark the temperatures will hardly drop. I’m expecting a lot of the R18 e-tron quattro, which has been developed quite a bit further since Le Mans.”
Fiona Miller (quotes from Audi press release)
Photo: Both Audi Sport Team Joest entries at the 6 Hours of Bahrain will be Audi R18 e-tron quattros. Image from Audi Communications Motorsport.