AUBURN HILLS, Mich., -- Audi of America Inc. is making a triumphant return to American motorsports with the Audi Sport R8 American Le Mans Series (ALMS) racer campaigned by Audi Sport Team Joest. Audi Sport Team Joest Racing, of Atlanta, will...
AUBURN HILLS, Mich., -- Audi of America Inc. is making a triumphant return to American motorsports with the Audi Sport R8 American Le Mans Series (ALMS) racer campaigned by Audi Sport Team Joest.
Audi Sport Team Joest Racing, of Atlanta, will campaign two Audi Sport R8's at the inaugural Sebring race on March 18th. In addition, the team is preparing two 2000 R8's as well as two 1999 versions of the racer in preparation for the 24 hours of Le Mans, where three R8's will be competing for the coveted endurance prize. Piloting the R8's will be a strong contingent of European drivers including Frank Biela, Rinaldo Capello, Allan McNish, Emanuele Pirro, Michele Alboreto and Tom Kristensen.
"We felt the time was right to reacquaint North America to Audi's rich racing heritage," said Len Hunt, vice president in charge of Audi of America, Inc. "Competing in the American Le Mans Series and Le Mans allows Audi to showcase our leading performance technology. We look forward to competing in the series."
"The ALMS rules have allowed us to combine a European and North American schedule to compete for a combined championship as well as the ultimate prize of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The opportunity to team with Joest Racing, a proven endurance winner, was key to our decision," said Rod Bymaster, Audi Sport North America.
Audi is making its come back from a 11-year absence in North American Racing, when in 1988 Group 44 prepared Audi 200 quattros dominated the SCCA Trans- Am series. The quattros driven by Hans Stuck, Walter Röehrl and Hurley Haywood won the Trans-Am Manufacturers' Championship with eight wins and 19 top-five finishes. The four-wheel-drive quattros, known as the unfair advantage, were outlawed by the SCCA after their inaugural season in the series. In 1989 the Audi 80, at the hands of Hans Stuck, went on to seven victories in the IMSA-GTO series. Audi did not clinch the title because they were not entered in the long distance races at Daytona and Sebring.
Reinhold Joest brings over 30 years of endurance racing experience to the Audi effort, posting Le Mans wins in 1984, 1985, 1996 and 1997. Audi Sport Team Joest will campaign the R8's for the full 13 race ALMS series with an eye on the series championship. "The R8 is powered by a V-8 twin turbo, producing 600+ horsepower," commented Reinhold Joest. "The chassis has a single roll hoop configuration, that will give it a distinctive look on the track. We have assembled a group of drivers that have extensive experience in many forms of motor racing, we are confident that we will be extremely competitive throughout the season, both in the states and in Europe."
The Audi Sport R8's will carry numbers 77 and 78 making their ALMS series debut at the Superflo 12 Hours of Sebring on March 18th.