Sunday, February 5, 2012

Audi Sport goes hybrid for 2012 24 Hours of Le Mans

. Sunday, February 5, 2012

In addition to two "regular" R18 TDIs, Audi Sport will enter—for the first time ever—a pair of "hybrid drive" R18s at this year's 24 Hours of Le Mans in June. Though full driver lineups have yet been released, Audi Sport has announced their lead drivers for Le Mans will be André Lotterer in car #1 (hybrid), Allan McNish in car #2 (hybrid), Timo Bernhard in car #3 and Oliver Jarvis leading car #4. Look for the R18 hybrid prototypes to be officially revealed later this month. Full report after the jump.

Ingolstadt/Paris, February 2, 2012 – Audi competes in the 80th running of the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans on June 16–17, 2012 with a total of four LMP1 sports cars. Two of the four cars in action will be equipped with hybrid drive for the first time. Audi Sport Team Joest also follows a two-pronged approach in the newly created FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) during the 2012 season.

Following the first win for a TFSI engine (2001) and the historical first triumph for a diesel powered car (2006) the brand with the four rings targets yet another technical milestone at the world’s most famous and 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,” explains Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. "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. 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 (WEC). Audi plans to field additional cars at selected races such as the 12-hour race at Sebring (USA) and in the 6-hour race at Spa-Francorchamps (Belgium) which doubles as a dress rehearsal for Le Mans for the Audi squad.

At the 80th running of the French endurance classic, Audi competes with the start numbers ‘1’ and ‘2’ (hybrid drive) as well as ‘3’ and ‘4’. As stipulated by the regulations one driver per car is now nominated. Those drivers are André Lotterer, Allan McNish, Timo Bernhard and Oliver Jarvis.

The new Audi sports prototype with hybrid drive will be presented at the end of February. The first competitive outing follows in the 6-hour race at Spa-Francorchamps on May 5. For the World Championship opener at Sebring on March 17 Audi Sport Team Joest relies once again on the Audi R18 TDI that proved victorious at Le Mans last year. Audi has won the 24 Hours of Le Mans a total of ten times since the year 2000 and is, as a result, the most successful brand by far in race’s recent history.

Source: Audi Motorsport