Audi at Petit Le Mans - Anne Proffit photoEnlarge Photo
This year Audi intends to enter four cars in the 80th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans on June 16-17. Two of the four cars will be equipped with hybrid drive, the team said. Both the Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO) and the FIA have accepted the Audi AG entries.
Audi took its first Le Mans win with a TFSI engine in 2001 and an historic first victory for a diesel powered car in 2006; the brand targets yet another technical milestone at the world's most famous ad most important endurance race.
"To develop the hybrid technology for Le Mans is at least as ambitious and challenging as our diesel project was in its early stages," said Dr Wolfgang Ulrich, head of Audi Motorsport. "The first test results are very encouraging and we are intrigued to see just how this technology performs in combination with our ultra lightweight technology on the race track at Le Mans.
"As before, we still, however, see potential with the conventional drive - just as our colleagues do in production development," Dr Ulrich continued. "This is why we are absolutely delighted that the ACO and FIA selection committee has accepted our entries and that we can join the grid with four cars at the commemorative running of the Le Mans race."
Audi Sport Team Joest has entered two cars for the new FIA World Endurance Championship, while Audi plans to field additional cars at selected races such as the 12-hour race at Sebring that starts the season, and in the 6-hour race at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium, which doubles as a dress rehearsal for Le Mans.
Audi earned the start numbers "1" and "2" (for the hybrid drive) as well as No. 3 and No. 4. As stipulated by the regulations, one driver per car has been nominated. Those drivers are Andre Lotterer, Allan McNish, Timo Bernhard and Oliver Jarvis.
Audi will present the new sports prototype for the LM P1 category with hybrid drive at the end of February. Its first competitive outings is in the Spa 6-hour race on May 5. For the World Endurance Championship opener at Sebring on Mach 17, Audi Sport Team Joest relies, once again, on the Audi R18 TDI that won last year at Le Mans. Of three cars entered at that race, only one completed the distance and that was the winner.
Audi has won the 24 Hours of Le Mans a total of ten times since 2000 and is, as a result, the most successful brand - by far - in the race's recent history.