Audi R18 e-tron quattro, 24 Hours of Le Mans, 2013
It's the first time the WEC has visited the newly-opened track, and its challenging layout will be a high hurdle for everyone, Audi included. In fact, neither the team nor any of its six drivers are familiar with the track--it will be a matter of who can learn the circuit the fastest, and then keep the pace--and the car--together for the six-hour race.
Audi's endurance racing record on American soil is impressive, however, with nine American Le Mans Series championships and 11 wins at the 12 Hours of Sebring, including another win this year.
But even Audi's head of motorsport, Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, isn't resting on his laurels. "Austin promises to be a technically challenging track," said Ullrich. "The drivers judge it to be at a very high level. I’m hoping for our squad and the car to be doing well there right away. It’s an important race in a very significant market for Audi, so we’re aiming to achieve a good result."
While recognizing the track's difficulty level, the drivers seem to be eager to attack COTA. Allan McNish sees tires and weather playing a large role, noting, "We expect high temperatures and together with our tire partner Michelin have got to thoroughly prepare for this. I’ve celebrated many big successes in America. The fans at Austin can look forward to a nice sports car festival when the WEC and the ALMS are running on the same weekend."
Mr. Le Mans, Tom Kristensen, likewise is optimistic about the weekend's race. "I’ve always particularly enjoyed racing in the USA. I’ve only heard good things about the track and the surroundings so far," said Kristensen. "Each lap will offer some variety. Sector 1 contains many fast turns, sector 2 is shaped by hairpin turns and sector 3 is a Mickey Mouse section with many slow corners. So that requires driving stability at high speed, good acceleration power and a very agile car for the last sector."
Motor Authority will be covering the race live from the Circuit of the Americas, so be sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and right here on the web to catch all of the action during the fifth round of the WEC series.