Source: Audi Motorsport
Round five of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) at Austin in the U.S. state of Texas has a particularly high significance for Audi. In America, the brand’s sports car program began 14 years ago, Audi won the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) nine times in succession and the Sebring 12 Hours eleven times – most recently in March. Furthermore, the sales statistics in America have been developing positively for Audi for years. At Austin, on September 22, the brand with the four rings is aiming to achieve its second sports car victory in the United States this year. It would mark the sixth consecutive win for the Audi R18 e-tron quattro as well.
Totally new territory: The 5.515-kilometer Circuit of the Americas south-east of Austin was only inaugurated last year. Neither Audi Sport Team Joest nor the six factory drivers know the challenging roller-coaster track featuring 20 turns and 41 meters of vertical difference. Just like most recently at São Paulo, the entrants will be running counter-clockwise in the WEC round at Austin – a direction that is unusual in racing. While the drivers are preparing for the track by studying videos and practicing in the simulator, the engineers of Audi Sport have calculated the conditions for the Audi R18 e-tron quattro’s run in advance by means of mathematical simulations.
Audi Sport Team Joest may be facing another challenge. Outside temperatures above 30 degrees centigrade are not unusual in this region in September. In 2000, when the Audi R8 won at Dallas/Texas, the thermometers even rose to above 40 degrees.
Aside from the competition in the field, the two Audi driver squads are not cutting each other any slack either. Most recently, cars number ‘1’ and ‘2’ were separated by just five hundredths of a second in qualifying in Brazil. Each of the two teams has celebrated two WEC victories this year. In the drivers’ World Championship, the Le Mans winners Loïc Duval/Tom Kristensen/Allan McNish (F/DK/GB) continue to be the front runners. But Marcel Fässler/André Lotterer/Benoît Tréluyer (CH/D/F) have reduced their gap by eight to 22 points at São Paulo. And Austin only marks the beginning of the second half of the WEC season.
The reliability of the Audi R18 e-tron quattro is a staple in this fierce sporting competition. Ever since its debut in the 2012 season, the trend-setting diesel hybrid sports car has clinched eight victories, five of them in succession since March 2013. The efficient World Championship winning race car has never retired due to a technical defect to date.
But North America is not only important territory for Audi in motorsport. The new-car market in the United States has seen a positive development as well. By the end of 2012, 139,310 premium automobiles of the brand were sold in the United States, 18.5 percent more than the year before. Thus, Audi of America within five years increased the customer base of the four rings in the USA by nearly 50 percent (2007 deliveries: 93,506 cars). Growth continued in the first half of 2013. From January to June, the number of Audi deliveries in the United States went up by another 14 percent compared to the same period of the previous year.
Track length: 5.515 km
Race duration: 6 hours
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