IN HIS OWN WORDS: DR. WOLFGANG ULLRICH No, it wasn't a perfect week for Audi at the 56th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida. But there were plenty of positives to be had including a ninth consecutive LMP1 victory at...
IN HIS OWN WORDS: DR. WOLFGANG ULLRICH
No, it wasn't a perfect week for Audi at the 56th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida. But there were plenty of positives to be had including a ninth consecutive LMP1 victory at Sebring International Raceway. Chief among them were the news that the German marque will be part of the American Le Mans Series grid for the full season with two diesel-powered R10 TDIs and Audi's induction into the Sebring Hall of Fame. Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich used that platform to reflect on Audi's record at the 12 Hours and what the Series means to Audi as one of its leading manufacturers.
"Ladies and gentlemen, it's a great honor for Audi being inducted into the Hall of Fame at Sebring. In the name of AUDI AG I would like to thank you very much for this honor.
"Sebring is a very special race, especially for Audi. Back in 1999, we competed in our first ever sports car race at Sebring after racing touring cars for various years. Doing this at Sebring, on one of the toughest race tracks of the world, was a big task for Audi Sport and our team. We were not the fastest in 1999, but we were able to finish the race and even achieved a podium result.
"We learned a lot at Sebring in 1999, and one year later we came back with the new Audi R8. As you all know, it was the start of an incredible career for this car. I remember Don Panoz saying 'This car will be a winner' when he saw the Audi R8 for the first time.
"He was right.
"The R8 became the most successful Le Mans prototype in history with 63 overall victories in just 80 races. It has won the Le Mans 24 Hours five times and remained undefeated at Sebring from 2000 to 2005 before we introduced the revolutionary R10 TDI, our diesel-powered sports car.
"For sure, the winning streak of the Audi R8 was the key factor for being admitted to Sebring's Hall of Fame. We know that Sebring is one of the most prestigious races of the world and the victories Audi has achieved here make us proud. But we've seen Sebring also always as an important test for the Le Mans 24 Hours. If you finish the 12 Hours of Sebring, you can be quite sure you will not face too many unexpected technical problems at Le Mans. ..."
"The American Le Mans Series is an excellent platform in America for an automobile manufacturer to compete in motorsport at a high level with innovative technology. We want to continue to use this platform and to support Audi's diesel campaign in the USA. We will show fighting spirit and try to win as many races as possible.
"Audi has helped the American Le Mans Series to become one of the most popular racing series in the world. And Audi has also been the technological pioneers for the Green Racing initiative in the American Le Mans Series, which Audi very much welcomes.
"We have created the basis for Green Racing with racing our R10 TDI in the American Le Mans Series and proving that you can win Le Mans with a diesel-powered sports car. The ACO and IMSA have made it possible for Audi to showcase this technology at Le Mans and in the American Le Mans Series successfully.
"In 2008, AUDI AG will deliver more than 1 million cars worldwide for the first time in its history. Almost half of them will be equipped with a TDI engine, which, in the meantime, has established itself in almost every world market - with the exception of the USA.
"The TDI engine has enormous potential - specifically in the USA. The American Environmental Protection Agency has determined that the United States of America could save 1.4 million barrels of crude oil every day if just every third car and light commercial vehicle was fitted with a modern diesel engine like the Audi TDI.
"Audi will start a TDI offensive later this year introducing the world's cleanest diesel with low emission system on the US markets. The R10 TDI helps to explain the advantages of the TDI technology to the public and the customers.
"And all this started where...? Exactly: Here at Sebring International Raceway.
"Audi is proud it has made history at Sebring. With the induction in the Hall of Fame, Audi has a place in Sebring's history for ever.
"Thank you very much for giving us this opportunity. Sebring will always remain a special place for Audi and for myself."
The next race for the American Le Mans Series is the Acura Sports Car Challenge of St. Petersburg. The green flag is scheduled for 1:25 p.m. ET on Saturday, April 5 from the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla. The race will be broadcast on ABC from 1:30-3:30 p.m. ET on April 5. American Le Mans Radio coverage will be available on XM Satellite Radio and americanlemans.com, which also will feature IMSA's Live Timing & Scoring.