Audi aims for twelfth victory at Le Mans

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Three Audi R18 e-tron quattro cars at season’s top event for sports cars. Eleven Audi victories clinched at 24 Hours in France.

Ingolstadt, June 14, 2013 – On June 22/23, Audi will be competing at the classic 24-hour race at Le Mans for the 15th time. On the 90th anniversary of the world’s most important endurance race, the challenge is particularly great for the brand with the four rings, following the most recent changes in the regulations.

Le Mans 2013 will be a year of historic dimensions. The inaugural event of the endurance race was held 90 years ago. Audi is now competing for the 15th time. The current World Endurance Champions Marcel Fässler/André Lotterer/Benoît Tréluyer (CH/D/F) will enter the race in the number ‘1’ Audi R18 e-tron quattro. If successful, the three drivers, following two consecutive victories, could manage a hat-trick at La Sarthe. This was last achieved by another Audi trio: In 2000, 2001 and 2002, Frank Biela/Emanuele Pirro/Tom Kristensen (D/I/DK) remained unbeaten three times in succession.

Le Mans record winner Tom Kristensen (eight wins) expects to be in contention for a top result with his current team-mates Loïc Duval (F) and Allan McNish (GB) as well. In April, the trio won the season opener of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) at Silverstone. A year ago, Kristensen and McNish finished as the runners-up at Le Mans.

#1 Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R18 e-tron quattro
#1 Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R18 e-tron quattro

Photo by: Eric Gilbert

The driver line-up of the Audi R18 e-tron quattro designated as car number ‘3’ is aiming for the trophy as well: Marc Gené (E) was the overall winner at Le Mans in 2009. Oliver Jarvis (GB) was on podium at Le Mans for the first time last year and in March won the 12-hour race at Sebring (USA) in the R18 e-tron quattro. Lucas di Grassi (BR) is experiencing a premiere. The Brazilian is contesting his first Le Mans race and since making his WEC debut with Audi last September has finished his three races to date on the podium. In doing so, he continually benefited from the wealth of experience of his team-mates in the Audi driver squad that boasts an amazing combined tally of 17 Le Mans victories.

On the technology side, the team of Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich and Chris Reinke, Head of LMP, has rigorously prepared for the toughest race of the season as well. The Audi R18 e-tron quattro has been thoroughly revised with respect to the engine, the hybrid system, its ultra-lightweight design and in other areas. Furthermore, the diesel hybrid sports car will be running with optimized aerodynamics at Le Mans.

Audi is underscoring its role as a technology pioneer with the high-performance LED headlights featuring matrix-beam technology, the digital rear-view mirror with an AMOLED display and other forward-thinking detailed solutions. Audi has been transferring a wealth of innovations from motorsport to its products for more than 30 years. Customers profit from ideas such as quattro four-wheel drive and leading-edge TDI and TFSI engines as well as the most recent innovations in the field of active safety.

The score in the duel between FIA Endurance World Champion Audi and challenger Toyota is currently at 5-3. But although Audi has been unbeaten this year in sports prototype racing to date and set the best time on the test day on June 9, a question mark remains: More than ever before, it is uncertain whether the rating of diesel and gasoline engines is sufficiently balanced to ensure fair relative strengths over the distance. Since January, diesel sports cars have progressively been subjected to more severe restrictions.

Viewers can watch the race live on Eurosport and numerous other TV stations worldwide and on the internet at www.audi-motorsport.com – including onboard footage and telemetry data of the three Audi R18 e-tron quattro cars. A live ticker is available on the Audi Sport app and Twitter. Audi provides background information on Facebook as well.

Topics of the weekend

-How will the changes to the regulations affect the competition at the front of the field?
-Will Audi manage to clinch its twelfth victory on its 15th run at Le Mans?
-Which of the three driver teams will be the best Audi squad in the end?
-Who will be leading the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) after Le Mans?

Quotes by the officials

Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, Head of Audi Motorsport: “This year, Le Mans will be a particularly great challenge for us. There have been various changes made to the regulations in recent months. This has put us in a position that will make it difficult for us to decide the competition in our favor based on our racing performance. But we’re going to focus on our strengths as a team, which we’ve demonstrated on numerous occasions. It’s about doing a one-hundred-percent perfect job. We’ve got to reduce the stopping times in the pits to a minimum and, that way, try to compensate for the restrictions which the regulations have imposed on us.”

Chris Reinke, Leiter LMP: “We thoroughly prepared for the most important race of the year with the entire team and, as is typical for Audi, are again entering the race with a number of innovations this year. On the test day a week ago, we didn’t learn a lot yet about how the relative strengths pan out this year. The first two WEC races haven’t been representative either. We’re eager to see how the race week will develop and whether the type of battle will be possible that the audience and we all greatly wish to see – a balanced competition for overall victory. We’ve done everything we could on our part to make this happen.”

Ralf Jüttner, Technical Director Audi Sport Team Joest: “We’re very much hoping to see a classic race at Le Mans this year that won’t make things too easy for anybody. Maybe we’ll get an idea of absolute lap times in qualifying. But we’ll probably only be able to tell during the course of the race what effects the most recent changes in the regulations will have. Only then will we be able to finalize our strategy. I’m expecting an intense battle.”

Facts and quotes by the Audi drivers

#3 Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R18 e-tron quattro: Marc Gene, Oliver Jarvis, Lucas di Grassi
#3 Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R18 e-tron quattro: Marc Gene, Oliver Jarvis, Lucas di Grassi

Photo by: Eric Gilbert

Marcel Fässler (37/CH), Audi R18 e-tron quattro #1 (Audi Sport Team Joest)
-In 2011, was the first Swiss to win the Le Mans 24 Hours -Most recently won at Spa with André Lotterer and Benoît Tréluyer “I look forward to Le Mans every year because it’s a fantastic challenge. We’ve got strong rivals, but we’re very motivated and have got a good car in the Audi R18 e-tron quattro. We know what the entire team is capable of achieving and will go all out in order to win.”

André Lotterer (31/D), Audi R18 e-tron quattro #1 (Audi Sport Team Joest)
-Has clinched two victories at Le Mans in four runs so far -Is leading the World Championship with his two team-mates “I’m traveling to Le Mans with a good feeling. The two victories in recent years are great and give us self-confidence, and of course we’re competing to win. But we should simply ignore these two wins and concentrate on this year. Finishing – hopefully without any problems – has to be our first objective. Then we’ll see what the outcome will be because at Le Mans anything can happen.”

Benoît Tréluyer (36/F), Audi R18 e-tron quattro #1 (Audi Sport Team Joest)
-The winner of the past two years is experiencing his home race at Le Mans -This year, has won the Sebring 12 Hours and the Spa 6 Hours “Finally, we’re returning to Le Mans and I can run on this track in the Audi R18 e-tron quattro again. After Spa, I drove the car once more on the test day at Le Mans. That was good practice. A home round is always something very special. Many fans and friends will come to the event to support me. That’s a nice feeling.”

Loïc Duval (31/F), Audi R18 e-tron quattro #2 (Audi Sport Team Joest)
-Drove the fastest race lap last year and set the absolute best time in 2010 -Achieved the fastest time at Le Mans a week ago on the test day “Le Mans is an amazing event. For me, it’s almost a home around because I’m from Chartres. For a year, I’ve been waiting to return to La Sarthe. At that time, things weren’t going as well for us as they should have. Now I’m hoping for a particularly good result and can hardly wait for the race week to finally start.”

Tom Kristensen (45/DK), Audi R18 e-tron quattro #2 (Audi Sport Team Joest)
-As an eight-time winner, is holding the record at Le Mans -Won the opening event at Silverstone with his team-mates “There’s no other race you’ve got to prepare for in such detail. We haven’t been on this track for a year, that’s why the test day last Sunday was so valuable. Audi has continually improved the R18 e-tron quattro and taken care of a lot of details. The battle this year will again be very close and tough. Top performance is equally important as consistency. And on a personal note, Allan McNish and I’ll be driving without Dindo Capello as our team-mate for the first time in seven years at Le Mans. Our new colleague Loïc Duval is quick and loaded with motivation. The three of us have established excellent rapport.”

Allan McNish (43/GB), Audi R18 e-tron quattro #2 (Audi Sport Team Joest)
-Has won the Le Mans 24 Hours twice before -Is only trailing the leaders of the WEC standings by one point “Le Mans with its unique character is like a world soccer championship in a way. You absolutely want to win the biggest race of the year, but even if you’re on podium in second or third place it’s a great feeling. I’ve been on podium there eight times before, and twice as a winner. This year, I’d like to mount the very top again. You can never afford to rest at this race. Emotionally, the 24 Hours cost me more energy than the physical strength you’ve got to exert as a race driver.”

Marc Gené (39/E), Audi R18 e-tron quattro #3 (Audi Sport Team Joest)
-Won the classic race at Le Mans in 2009 -Is running with two new Audi team-mates this year “We’re working for a whole year toward this one race. We’re well prepared, as we’ve previously shown at Silverstone and Spa. I’m expecting us to be in contention for victory. I’m running at Le Mans for the seventh time and have never had as good a feeling before the race as this year.”

Lucas di Grassi (28/BR), Audi R18 e-tron quattro #3 (Audi Sport Team Joest)
-Is the only Audi driver who has never run at Le Mans before -Achieved second place at the Sebring 12 Hours with Audi “My first race at Le Mans will be a great experience at which I’ll be learning a lot. In our team, we’ve got legends like Tom Kristensen and Allan McNish. It’s a privilege to belong to such a squad. Finishing the race, learning and being as good as possible – these are my aims.”

Oliver Jarvis (29/GB), Audi R18 e-tron quattro #3 (Audi Sport Team Joest)
-Won the GT class at Daytona 24 Hours with Audi -Celebrated his first sports car victory at the Sebring 12 Hours “After third place last year, I’d obviously like to move up on the podium. But first, you’ve got to finish on podium to begin with. Anything’s possible at what is arguably the world’s toughest race. I believe in our competitiveness – in the battle with our team colleagues, as well as with Toyota.”

Audi Motorsport

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Series LEMANS
Article type Breaking news
Tags 24, 24h, andre lotterer, audi, audi motorsport, benoit treluyer, le mans, marcel fassler, tom kristensen