Audi with hybrid drive at Le Mans for the first time

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© Audi Motorsport

Audi competes in the 80th running of the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans on June 16-17, 2012 with a total of four LMP1 sports cars. Two of the four cars in action will be equipped with hybrid drive for the first time. Audi Sport Team Joest also follows a two-pronged approach in the newly created FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) during the 2012 season.

Following the first win for a TFSI engine (2001) and the historical first triumph for a diesel powered car (2006) the brand with the four rings targets yet another technical milestone at the world’s most famous and most important endurance race. “To develop the hybrid technology for Le Mans is at least as ambitious and challenging as our diesel project was in its early stages,” explains Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. “The first test results are very encouraging and we are intrigued to see just how this technology performs in combination with our ultra lightweight technology on the race track at Le Mans. As before, we still, however, see potential with the conventional drive – just as our colleagues do in production development. This is why we are absolutely delighted that the ACO and FIA selection committee has accepted our entries and that we can join the grid with four cars at the commemorative running of the Le Mans race.”

Audi Sport Team Joest has entered two cars for the new FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC). Audi plans to field additional cars at selected races such as the 12-hour race at Sebring (USA) and in the 6-hour race at Spa-Francorchamps (Belgium) which doubles as a dress rehearsal for Le Mans for the Audi squad.

At the 80th running of the French endurance classic, Audi competes with the start numbers ‘1’ and ‘2’ (hybrid drive) as well as ‘3’ and ‘4’. As stipulated by the regulations one driver per car is now nominated. Those drivers are André Lotterer, Allan McNish, Timo Bernhard and Oliver Jarvis.

The new Audi sports prototype with hybrid drive will be presented at the end of February. The first competitive outing follows in the 6-hour race at Spa-Francorchamps on May 5. For the World Championship opener at Sebring on March 17 Audi Sport Team Joest relies once again on the Audi R18 TDI that proved victorious at Le Mans last year. Audi has won the 24 Hours of Le Mans a total of ten times since the year 2000 and is, as a result, the most successful brand by far in race’s recent history.

8 Comments on Audi with hybrid drive at Le Mans for the first time

  1. Being a Die-Hard Audi Fan, I can be very Happy about this news. Excited, Yes. But at the same time, I wish we could have seen this plan be executed on its intended Rivals ( Peugeot ), not to discount Toyota, but they are at the begining stages of development. Nevertheless, is will be very cool. ()()()().

  2. The withdrawal of Peugeot is maybe even the reason why Audi has decided to run two Hybrid cars. If there was a stronger competition, they probably would have dared to run only one “alternative drive” car (probably same for Peugeot, too). Now they can attract public attention to sort of a “competition” between conventional and alternative drivetrains.

  3. LET THEM RACE ONE ANOTHER!!!! If they don’t, the show will die and Audi will be cheating itself out of a great championship. Lets hope they are given severe restrictions so that there will be a race of some description at the head of the field.

  4. At Toyota launch they said they expect to have the quickest hybrid becuase they have development advantage over Audi. Meanwhile Dome are aiming to be quicker than Toyota with a car developed for outright pace. I wouldn’t be putting any bets on an Audi pole although they will likely win with better reliability.

  5. Let who race one another?? William, I do believe Peugeot is out of it this year. I’d love to see the Pugs at LM, but it ain’t happin’. Audi can do what it wants.

  6. Maybe a stupid question, but is the Audi a Diesel-Hybrid or a Petrol-Hybrid. And how about the Toyota…. Diesel or Petrol? And are the regulations for Diesel Hybrid and Petrol Hybrid, different?

  7. Is it a petrol or diesel hybrid? Good luck to Audi (for all four cars, but especially the Hybrid entries), but I do hope that Toyota (and the rest) can give them a consistent challenge both at Le Mans and in the WEC.

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