Race will decide manufacturer's title for 2014.
Brazil is hosting the finale of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) for the first time. On November 30, WEC round eight will be held at São Paulo, marking the first time the manufacturers championship title outcome is determined in the last race of the season, Audi having become the World Champions early in 2012 and 2013, the first two WEC years. For Tom Kristensen (DK), the race marks the end of his career in professional racing.
For Audi, it is the season finale and for Tom Kristensen the finale in his career as a race driver. The nine-time Le Mans winner will be contesting his last event as a professional race driver at São Paulo but continuing his association with Audi as a representative and partner of Audi Sport.
Together with his teammate Lucas di Grassi (BR), the 47-year-old endurance racing specialist will be battling for a top spot in the World Championship until the end. The Dane and the Brazilian, with a score of 102 points, still have a mathematical chance of clinching the runner-ups position, while their team-mates Marcel Fässler/André Lotterer/Benoît Tréluyer (CH/D/F), with 117 points, are currently ranked in second place of the standings. With a driver team from each, Toyota and Porsche, are still both in the race for the runner-ups spot as well, ensuring the battle will be particularly thrilling.
The manufacturers classification has not been decided yet either. At least theoretically, there is still a chance of clinching the title there as Audi is trailing the leader of the standings by 40 points and 44 points are yet to be awarded in Brazil. Although the brand with the four rings has been the only manufacturer to return without points from one of the seven rounds of the season held to date, the team managed to postpone the title decision to the finale. The past two years saw Audi taking the title in the manufacturers world championship early in the third from last race of the season in 2013 and, amazingly, after just four of eight rounds in 2012.
In the current season, the new champions will only be determined on November 30. The setting for the decision will be provided by the tradition-steeped Autódromo José Carlos Pace on the outskirts of the Brazilian metropolis a track that many race drivers greatly enjoy. Its elevation changes during the course of a lap and its challenging cornering sections characterize the facility as a classic driver track. These characteristics clearly distinguish it from many more modern circuits. The fresh tarmac that will affect grip and tire wear makes for a new aspect this year.
Brazil a big market
But the race is not only an important one for Audi for sporting reasons. In October, the company increased its deliveries on the Brazilian market by 84.5 percent compared to the year before. Aggregated, this means that demand for Audi models has doubled to 10,866 within the space of just one year. From 2015 on, Audi will again be represented in this market with a production site located in São José dos Pinhais.
For racing pro Lucas di Grassi, round eight is his home round. The Audi driver was born in São Paulo 30 years ago and two years ago competed there for the first time in the WEC for Audi Sport Team Joest. In the finale, he will be wearing a special racing suit prominently featuring the local automotive supplier and Audi Sport partner Aethra and the aerodynamic splitter on the hood of the number 1 R18 e-tron quattro sporting the Brazilian national colors will be adorned with Aethras company logo as well.
Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport): 'We're pleased to return to Brazil, not least because we celebrated success there last year. In addition, weve got a Brazilian driver in our team who is set on delivering a good race to his fans. But weve got to proceed from the assumption that under the current regulations the situation will be clearly more difficult for us than in the past season.'
Chris Reinke (Head of LMP): "The season finale will be a race with diverse challenges. Of course its a classic driver track that our drivers are very much looking forward to. The circuit has received a new surface recently, with grip conditions we dont know yet. Furthermore, the race is held at a time of the year that harbors a relatively high risk of rain. This may cause some surprises in the race. But were very much looking forward to these challenges."
Lucas di Grassi (30/BR), Audi R18 e-tron quattro #1 (Audi Sport Team Joest): "I love this track and remember my first race there with Audi Sport very well. Now, for the first time, my home round is also the finale at which my family, my friends and many fans will be visiting me. The Brazilians support motorsport with great enthusiasm. The track with the new tarmac will obviously have more grip. Thats positive."
Tom Kristensen (47/DK), Audi R18 e-tron quattro #1 (Audi Sport Team Joest): "The track at Interlagos is on the calendar for the last time until further notice. The circuit is relatively short but a great driver track. There are many interesting turns there, were driving counter-clockwise and the vertical differences can be clearly felt. The enjoyment of driving an LMP sports car there is unique. Im hoping for a great finale thatll no doubt be very emotional, as Im ending my career as a professional race driver there."