After three consecutive runs for Audi at the Le Mans 24 Hours and his overall victory at the wheel of the Audi R15 TDI in the 2010 season, Timo Bernhard will not participate in the endurance classic this year. In close coordination with the physicians and with Audi Sport the Audi factory driver attaches major importance to making a complete recovery after his accident.
Following the testing accident in March in which he was not at fault Timo Bernhard started a rehabilitation program with his personal trainer and received comprehensive medical care. “I’m very pleased with the steps I’ve managed to make during this time,” says Bernhard who hails from Germany’s Saar-Palatinate district. “We’ve created a tight system of medical checks, so my progress has constantly been monitored. Unfortunately, there’s not enough time before the Le Mans 24 Hours to become 100 percent fit again. Le Mans is a world-class race that doesn’t allow any compromises. I only want to compete at this event in perfect physical condition. That’s why on the advice of my doctors and in close coordination with Audi I decided not to run at Le Mans this year.”
For the Le Mans 24 Hours, the 31-year-old Audi factory driver was planned to run in the Audi R18 ultra designated as car number “3.” His place will now be taken by Audi’s reserve driver Marc Gené. The Spaniard drove his first race for Audi in early May at the second round of the FIA World Endurance Championship WEC where together with Romain Dumas and Loïc Duval he clinched overall victory.
“All of us had very much been wishing for Timo to be fit again for the test day and the Le Mans 24 Hours,” stresses Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. “Unfortunately, the time was too short for this. That’s a real shame for Timo and for us too. Despite this responsible and probably not easy decision there’s generally positive news as well, as we all know that Timo will completely recover again. Naturally, he will continue to enjoy our full support. By signing Marc Gené in April as a reserve driver we’ve got a tried and tested solution for the current situation. Marc will now be nominated as a racer driver in the number “3” car. At Spa, he took advantage of the opportunity to get to know the team and to immediately show a very good performance.”
Marc Gené will take Timo Bernhard’s place as early as on the test day at Le Mans on June 3. On that day, the new Audi R18 e-tron quattro as the first diesel hybrid sports car in history as well as its sister model, the new Audi R18 ultra, will be driven on the 13.629-kilometer circuit for the first time. On June 16 and 17, Audi will be battling for its eleventh overall victory in the world’s most important endurance race with two cars of both models.