The 2011 24 Hours of Le Mans winning Audi R18 TDI is set to make its U.S. debut at next week’s Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta.  Audi will field two R18 TDIs in LMP1 as they aim for their tenth overall victory at Petit Le Mans.  Audi went undefeated from 2000 to 2005 with their successful Audi R8 and won overall in 2006, 2007 and 2008 with the Audi R10 TDI.  Despite their success, the Audi Sport team has lost to the factory Peugeot team in their 908 Hdi-FAP cars in 2009 and 2010 but are hoping to change their luck with the new R18 TDI at Road Atlanta.

The driving team of Timo Bernhard, Romain Dumas and 2011 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Marcel Fässler will drive the #1 Audi R18 TDI.  Bernhard has extensive experience at Road Atlanta and won his class during the 2003, 2004, 2006 and 2007 Petit Le Mans event.  Dumas makes his first race appearance in the R18 TDI since Le Mans.  “I’m happy to be sitting in the cockpit again,” says Dumas who has anxiously been awaiting his next opportunity to drive for Audi.  Dumas was GT class winner at Petit Le Mans in 2003 and LMP2 winner at the 2007 Petit Le Mans  in the Porsche RS Spyder.  Marcel Fässler rounds out the driving trio and most recently drove with Timo Bernhard in the R18 TDI in the ILMC race at Silverstone.  Fässler was the fastest Audi at Road Atlanta in last year’s Petit Le Mans.

Dindo Capello, Tom Kirstensen and Allan McNish comprise the driving team in the #2 Audi R18 TDI.  This very successful driving trio have all shared in great success at Petit Le Mans. McNish has won overall at Petit Le Mans four times, with his last win coming in 2008 while driving the Audi R10 TDI with Dindo Capello and Emanuele Pirro.  Tom Kirstensen won overall for Audi in 2002 with Dindo Capello and recently drove the R18 TDI at Silverstone with Allan McNish.  Capello holds the record for most overall wins at Petit Le Mans with five overall victories.  “Petit Le Mans is one of the races I enjoy most.  I’m holding a victory record there.  And it would be nice if I could add another success to my track record,” says Capello.

The battle between Audi and Peugeot in LMP1 at Le Mans and throughout the ILMC season has been fierce with Peugeot currently leading Audi in overall wins.  Audi Sport is hoping to turn their recent losses at Imola and Silverstone around at Petit Le Mans.  Ralf Jüttner, Technical Director for Audi Sport Team Joest says “It’s called ‘Petit Le Mans’ and that also includes a piece of Le Mans.  That’s why we’ve simply got to win there.”

Practice sessions for the 14th running of Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta kick off on Sunday, September 25th with qualifying being held on Friday, September 30th.  The green flag at Road Atlanta drops at 11:30 EST on Saturday, October 1st.  Qualifying can be watched live on ESPN3 on September 30th from 2:55pm to 4:10pm EST.  ESPN3 will also air flag to flag coverage of the 10-hour/1000 mile race starting at 11:15am EST on Saturday, October 1st.

ILMC LMP1 manufacturers standings after 5 of 7 rounds:
1 Peugeot 153 points; 2 Audi, 108.

ILMC LMP1 team standings after 5 of 7 rounds:
1 Peugeot Sport Total, 81 points; 2 Audi Sport Team Joest, 74; 3 Team Oreca Matmut, 34; 4 Rebellion Racing, 33; 5 Oak Racing, 16; 6 Aston Martin Racing, 4.

 

 

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Zerin Dube

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