At its 2012 Audi Sport Finale at the Audi Forum in Ingolstadt, Germany, Audi officials announced the manufacturer’s racing plans for 2013.
“Successful motorsport is part of our brand DNA,” stated Wolfgang Dürheimer, member of the Management Board for Technical Development at AUDI AG. “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.”
Audi remains committed to the very popular DTM series, a sort of NASCAR road racing—no surprise there as the series has NASCAR-like popularity within Germany. The big news concerned Audi’s plans to defend it 2012 World Endurance Championship title, and its expansion into endurance racing in the United States.
In WEC, Audi is banking on its R18 e-tron quattros—the factory will bring three of the all-wheel-drive hybrids to the Le Mans 24-Hour race, and two to the other rounds. These V6 turbo-diesel/flywheel electric hybrids will be developed and updated versions of the car that won Le Mans and the WEC championship in 2012. The flybrid system in particular has been made substantially more potent, with no attendant weight increase.
Driving the R18 e-trons will be current World Champions Marcel Fässler, André Lotterer and Benoît Tréluyer last year’s No. 2 team Tom Kristensen and Allan McNish plus Lucas di Grassi, Loïc Duval, Marc Gené, and Oliver Jarvis.
While one part of the Audio Sport crew works on the R18s, another branch is already working on an all-new model for the 2014 season—Audi is continuing its commitment to endurance racing at least through the end of 2014, and likely beyond.
Upping the Ante in the United States
Audi is increasing its involvement in the Grand Am Rolex Sports Car Series, where it had only minimal involvement in 2012—a car and two drivers for two races to help out APR Motorsports, which campaigned its own Audi R8 GT through the rest of the schedule.
This year Audi will be supplying three cars full of star drivers: APR will get a second R8 piloted by Marc Basseng, René Rast and Frank Stippler; Rum Bum Racing will get Frank Biela, Christopher Haase and GT1 World Champion Markus Winkelhock; and Alex Job Racing will receive an R8 and drivers Filipe Albuquerque, Oliver Jarvis and Edoardo Mortara.
With four of its R8 s in the GT class, Audi hopes to finally seize victory in the Rolex series.
Audi is coming back to the American Le Mans Series one more time as well. With ALMS and Rolex merging in 2014, the 2013 12 Hours of Sebring might be the last one run to international rules for some years to come. Audi has decided to honor this historic road race and this important series with one last appearance: one of the Le Mans-winning R18 e-trons will contest the 12-hour endurance classic.
“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.”
The 51st Grand Am Rolex 24 at Daytona starts on Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013, and ends the next day. Tickets for this event are available through Grand-Am.com.
The 61st Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring runs on Saturday, March 16, 2013. Tickets for this iconic race can be purchased through alms.com.
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