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.
Audi has announced a new long-tail variant of the hybrid R18 e-tron quattro, which will make its racing debut at the Spa 6 Hours on May 4th. Spa will be the first race in which Audi will be entering three R18 e-tron quattro cars, with two out of the three being the standard R18 e-tron quattro. Audi Sport Team Joest is using Spa as preparation for the 90th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans which will be held on June 22nd and 23rd.
The winning team of the WEC opening round at Silverstone, Loïc Duval/Tom Kristensen/Allan McNish, as well as the current WEC and 2012 24 Hours of Le Mans champions, Marcel Fässler/André Lotterer/Benoît Tréluyer will pilot the standard e-tron quattros. The third Audi R18 e-tron quattro driven by the team of Marc Gené/Lucas di Grassi/Oliver Jarvis, is fitted with a new aerodynamic package which Audi say has been optimized for high speed tracks such as Le Mans’ Circuit de la Sarthe.
Rather than focusing on overall lap times, Audi Sport will analyze time differences between the cars on a sector by sector basis. This data will be reviewed to better prepare the team for Le Mans.
The Spa 6 Hours can be watched in its entirety on audi-liveracing.com on May 4th.
Rebellion Racing announced today that they will be entering the American Le Mans Series, the FIA World Endurance Championship and the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2013. Rebellion Racing won the FIA LMP1 Endurance Trophy for best privateer team in the FIA WEC series in 2012 and was the quickest privateer team at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, as well as clenching the overall win at Petit Le Mans last year.
Audi announced today that two Audi Sport R18 e-tron quattro LMP1 cars will enter the 2013 12 Hours of Sebring to be held on March 16th at Sebring International Raceway. The 61st running of the 12 Hours of Sebring marks the final year of the event under the American Le Mans Series name. Beginning in 2014, Sebring will become part of the new series created by the merger of ALMS and GRAND-AM.
Audi debuted their first LMP sports car at Sebring in 1999 and has since gone on to win 22 podiums and 10 overall wins at Sebring. While we’ve become used to seeing Audi battle at Sebring over the years, 2013 marks the end of an era for Audi at Sebring. As of 2014, LMP1 class cars will no longer be allowed to run the event which means the 2013 event will be the last time for the foreseeable future that we’ll see Audi battling it out at Sebring. The tweet from Joest Racing earlier this morning says it all:
On March 16th the Audi Sport Team Joest says farewell to Sebring. Two Audi R 18 e-tron quattro will fight for victory.
The Head of Audi Motorsport, Dr. Wolfgang Ulrich stated “We’re in for a very emotional race weekend on which we’ll be taking the fans along on a journey into our past. Sebring is where Audi’s sports car era that has been so successful began.”
For the farewell race of Audi Sport at Sebring, two R18 e-tron quattro cars will be entered. One R18 e-tron will be a 2012-spec car, while the other will be an updated version that will continue on in the full World Endurance Championship season. The driver lineup will consist of Marcel Fässler/Oliver Jarvis/Benoît Tréluyer and Lucas di Grassi/Tom Kristensen/Allan McNish. Tom Kristensen holds the record for the most overall wins at Sebring with six victories.
We here at Speed:Sport:Life are sad to see this era come to an and, and you can bet that we’ll be spending today making travel reservations for the 61st running of the race. We suggest that you all do the same. Check out all the details on Sebring International Raceway’s site.
As I sit here at home typing this while trying to recover from massive sleep deprivation, I’m still in disbelief that just four days ago I was standing less than five feet from the legendary Mulsanne straight. I’m still in disbelief that a hybrid race car not only ran at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, but also won the race. Most of all, I’m still in disbelief that I attended the 80th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. No more “Maybe next year.”
By now you probably already know the results of the 2012 24 Hours of Le Mans and you may have even kept up with our live news stream here at S:S:L. Rather than rewriting the news that you already know, I present to you the 80th running of the world’s greatest racing event as seen through my eyes and my camera. These photos were taken at various points during the week; some are from qualifying sessions, some from the pre-race pageantry, and others from the race itself. I hope that you enjoy these photos as much as I enjoyed producing them, and I hope that every one of you gets to experience the amazement and wonder of the 24 Hours of Le Mans in person as I just did. Cheers.
We will be doing real-time flag to flag coverage of the 24 Hours of Le Mans on Twitter @SpeedSportLife , or you can follow along here with our Cover It Live widget. Don’t forget to download the 2012 Le Mans Spotters Guide from SimRaceway.com.
In our opinion the best place to listen to the broadcast of the race is RadioLemans which offers a live stream worldwide, flag to flag. These guys are the best motorsport commentators out there and do an incredible job covering the race year after year. Live timing of the race can be found on the Lemans.org website at http://live.lemans-tv.com/en/.
For those of you who are in the U.S., the race will be aired on SPEED. While SPEED is doing flag to flag coverage, they will be alternating between a live TV broadcast and streaming video on their website for the hours they go off-air on TV. Their schedule is as follows:
We like to be social and interactive during the race so please drop us a line in the comments or via twitter. Let us know who you are cheering for and feel free to make jokes at our expense while watching.