Friday 8 June 2012

Audi with innovation boost at Le Mans

Audi with innovation boost at Le Mans

  • Audi brings first diesel hybrid sports car to Le Mans
  • Aim is to clinch brand’s eleventh victory on race’s 80th anniversary
  • ultra lightweight technology as base for e-tron quattro
Ingolstadt, June 8, 2012 - The Le Mans 24 Hours, the world’s most important endurance race, will be held for the 80th time on June 16 and 17. Just in time for the anniversary event, Audi uses the French classic to yet again field forward-thinking technologies that are important for product development of the brand with the four rings.

After ten victories, the time has come for a new challenge. For Audi, Le Mans is not only about achieving the next success. The company’s aim is to be the front runner with new technologies - as it has often been in its over 30 years of motorsport history and particularly at Le Mans. In 2001, Audi managed to claim the first victory with the combination of turbocharging and direct injection (TFSI), which is standard in production vehicles today. The first Le Mans success of a diesel-powered race car in 2006 made worldwide headlines. In 2010, a vehicle with variable turbine geometry (VTG) triumphed for the first time.

Now it is the Audi R18 e-tron quattro - the first race car with diesel hybrid drive at Le Mans that concurrently marks the return of quattro drive. In car number "1" last year’s winners Marcel Fässler/André Lotterer/Benoît Tréluyer (CH/D/F) will be starting from the grid. Their team-mates Dindo Capello/Tom Kristensen/Allan McNish (I/DK/GB) will drive the diesel hybrid marked as number "2."

At the same time, Audi is bringing a "twin" of the R18 e-tron quattro to Le Mans, which has made the fielding of a diesel hybrid possible in the first place: the Audi R18 ultra, the lightest Le Mans prototype ever built by Audi. In the cockpit of the number "3" R18 ultra, Romain Dumas/Loïc Duval/Marc Gené (F/F/E) will be taking turns at the wheel. Number "4" will be driven by Marco Bonanomi/Oliver Jarvis/Mike Rockenfeller (I/GB/D).

Except for the hybrid system and different graphics, the R18 e-tron quattro and the R18 ultra are technically identical in every respect. Both embody ultra lightweight technology, which is one of the company’s core competencies. The new CFRP transmission housing - the first of its kind in an LMP sports car - is just one example of this ultra lightweight expertise.

In addition, both vehicle concepts are packed with numerous other innovations - from the highly efficient charging concept of the 3.7-liter V6 TDI engine with its mono VTG charger through to the digital rear-view mirror with an active matrix OLED display. It clearly improves active safety, has high relevance for road traffic and is a perfect example of the close association between AUDI AG’s Technical Development and Audi Sport.

2012 impressively demonstrates the attractiveness of Le Mans as a stage for new technologies. Never before have so many different drive concepts been put on the grid. Audi is expecting Toyota as a strong new competitor in the field of the 56 entrants. The test day at the beginning of June saw the first meeting of the two manufacturers in a direct comparison - with Audi running in front then.

All four R18 cars are fielded by Audi Sport Team Joest, the most successful Le Mans team of all time. The driver line-up is a high-caliber one as well. The twelve Audi racers combined have achieved 19 Le Mans victories.

1,000 guests of the brand from 24 different markets will watch its showing at Le Mans. The spectator stands should be full too. Twelve months ago, 249,500 spectators flocked to La Sarthe - a similar turnout of fans is expected again this year for the anniversary event.

Spectators watching the race at home have numerous information channels available to them. In addition to national television broadcasts, will be offering unique cockpit camera perspectives and summaries of the race. The Audi Sport iPhone app will carry comprehensive reports including a ticker, news, pictures and results of the year’s major racing event.

Topics of the weekend

-How quick will Audi be and how strong will the challenge of Toyota be?
-What will be the Audi R18 e-tron quattro’s advantages and what will be those of the R18 ultra?
-Will a record turnout be achieved at Le Mans on the 80th running of the race?
-Will Audi be able to celebrate its eleventh victory since 2000?
-Will Audi manage to extend its advantage in the World Endurance Championship?
-Who will be the front runner in the drivers’ world championship after Le Mans?

Quotes by the officials

Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport):
"At Le Mans, we’re competing with a totally new line-up compared with previous years. For the first time, we’re fielding four vehicles and two different concepts, the R18 e-tron quattro and the R18 ultra, under our factory commitment. We used the race at Spa as a ‘dress rehearsal’ for Le Mans and managed to finish it with a good result. We started adapting our vehicles to the track on the test day. This time, we’re also in the situation of meeting with Toyota, whom we expect to be our strongest rival, for the first time in a racing situation. We don’t know yet where exactly our opponent will stand. In any event, Le Mans is a completely different challenge every year that has to be mastered first."

Ralf Jüttner (Technical Director Audi Sport Team Joest): "On Audi’s 14th run at Le Mans we’re entering four race cars for the first time. In terms of logistics, personnel and within our environment we have thoroughly prepared for this event. For the first time, we’re also supporting two different technologies. The R18 ultra is considered a conventional car but it’s really not that conventional. If you weigh it without ballast it’s one of the lightest prototypes and packed with innovations. The R18 e-tron quattro is the first diesel hybrid vehicle. This is another premiere for a very highly advanced technology and the next milestone after TFSI and TDI. At the Spa 6 Hours, everything ran smoothly, including the way the technology was handled in the pits and during the stops. Now this has to stand the test of the 24-hour run. We’re ready for this."

Facts and quotes by the Audi drivers

Marcel Fässler (36/CH), Audi R18 e-tron quattro #1

-Is returning to Le Mans as last year’s winner
-Has so far been the only Swiss to win this classic race
-Most recently drove the fastest race lap at Spa
"It’s nice to travel to Le Mans knowing that you’ve won this race before. And it’s a special honor to compete in car number ‘1.’ We’ve been feeding on this for a year but now everything starts from scratch again. This year, the race will be particularly thrilling as we’re competing with the hybrid drive. We’re highly motivated and want to show that this new technology is immediately in contention for victory."

André Lotterer (31/D), Audi R18 e-tron quattro #1
-The native of Duisburg celebrated his first Le Mans victory a year ago
-Drove the fastest race lap at Le Mans last year
"Naturally, it‘s very nice to run in car number ‘1.’ What we experienced a year ago was unique and very special. But now we’ve got to put that aside for a while. You can’t travel to Le Mans with an expectation of having to win again. You’ve got to get into a rhythm first and face the race with respect. Then we’ll see what position we’re in. If we have the opportunity to convert this into a nice result then we’ll do that. Many things can happen in this race that you can’t plan for."

Benoît Tréluyer (35/F), Audi R18 e-tron quattro #1
-Is returning to Le Mans as the winner from last year
-Is running at La Sarthe for the eighth time
"I think it’ll be a great race and a true challenge. The R18 e-tron quattro is a really good car that’s still very young but very mature too. Naturally, we’re hoping to be in contention for the top podium position again. After winning last year, we know that we’re able to win and how to best achieve this. But a race like this always remains an equation with many unknown quantities."

Dindo Capello (47/I), Audi R18 e-tron quattro #2
-Is traveling to Le Mans as the runner-up in the standings
-Has already clinched a victory at Sebring this year
-Is celebrating his 48th birthday on race Sunday
"In 1999, I ran for Audi at Le Mans for the first time. But even after so many years, this year will involve a premiere for me again. We can show the latest technology at Le Mans. The e-tron quattro is simply the technological spearhead. Engine output has been dropping for years due to the regulations but the driving sensation has remained the same. The aerodynamics help a lot and the cornering speeds are higher than in the past. Now hybrid drive is added to this. I’ve been able to experience major advances at Audi every year. That’s truly an honor."

Tom Kristensen (44/DK), Audi R18 e-tron quattro #2
-With eight victories under his belt, is the most successful Le Mans racer of all time
-Won the season opener at Sebring
"The 80th running of the Le Mans 24 Hours is a wonderful anniversary. And on this occasion, Audi is competing as a technology pioneer yet again. There has been a whole year of intensive preparation. To mention just a few key words: e-tron quattro, aerodynamics, LED headlights, ultra lightweight technology, V6 monoturbo TDI engine, electrical gearshift, digital rear-view mirror. Our aim, simply put, is to cover the longest distance with that at the Le Mans 24 Hours."

Allan McNish (42/GB), Audi R18 e-tron quattro #2
-The winner of the season opener is ranking just two points behind the WEC front runners
-Has celebrated two victories at Le Mans so far
-Drove the fastest lap on the test day at Le Mans
"Le Mans is a special place and the race is really special. We made history before with TFSI and TDI technology. Now a new era is beginning with e-tron quattro. The latest generation of ultra lightweight technology is helping us as well. We’re driving two vehicle models in the team that are both capable of winning the race. After setting the first best time in qualifying at Spa we’d also love to clinch the first victory with the R18 e-tron quattro. This won’t be an easy feat considering the competition we’ve got. Everyone is perfectly prepared. The race is finally around the corner."

Romain Dumas (34/F), Audi R18 ultra #3
-Is traveling to France as the WEC leader of the standings
-Won the Le Mans 24 Hours with Audi for the first time in 2010
"Le Mans is the biggest and most important race of the year. For me, it’s a great pleasure to be part of it again - not least because it’s a home round for us Frenchmen. Audi has created good prerequisites this year yet again. Our R18 ultra is running superbly. I’m contesting the event with two new team-mates. We already showed our capabilities at Spa. The race is open and that means a lot of suspense for the fans and for us. We’re expecting to have good chances."

Loïc Duval (29/F), Audi R18 ultra #3
-Audi’s new signing is currently leading the WEC standings
-Celebrated his first victory with Audi at Spa
-Will be 30 years old on Tuesday of the Le Mans week
"Le Mans is the most important race of the year and this is where Audi is presenting its latest technologies. It’s also the most difficult round on the calendar. I’ve never been on the podium here, so I want to make up for that this year. The race is also about scoring valuable points for Audi in the FIA World Endurance Championship. The season has been going really well for us so far. We’re well prepared and want to clinch a nice result for Audi."

Marc Gené (38/E), Audi R18 ultra #3
-Won at Spa on his debut with Audi
-In 2009 was the first Spaniard in history to take overall victory at Le Mans
"Audi is giving me an opportunity to participate in the 80th running of the world’s nicest and most important race. I’m proud of having the chance to be part of a successful team like Audi and driving such a good car as the R18 ultra. I’d like to battle for victory once more even though this won’t be easy. But with the help of Loïc (Duval) and Romain (Dumas) we’ve got the chance to do so."

Marco Bonanomi (27/I), Audi R18 ultra #4
-Is the only Audi driver to contest the Le Mans 24 Hours for the first time
-Finished third on making his racing debut in the R18 ultra at Spa
"This is my second year with Audi and now I’ve got my first opportunity to compete at the Le Mans 24 Hours. I’ve got many great memories of last year even though I was only at Le Mans as a reserve driver. This huge event, 24 hours of work without stopping for everyone - this is a very intensive experience. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to convert everything I’ve learned on track now and that we’ll be running similarly well as we were at Spa."

Oliver Jarvis (28/GB), Audi R18 ultra #4
-Is returning to Le Mans after a single run in 2010
-Finished on the podium with Marco Bonanomi at Spa
"For six months, I’ve been planning for the race, training a lot and preparing myself well. Even on the test day we felt a special atmosphere there. I’m incredibly excited about the whole week of the event and about sitting in the car again. I’m hoping for a successful weekend."

Mike Rockenfeller (28/D), Audi R18 ultra #4

-Won the Le Mans 24 Hours in 2010
-With seven Le Mans runs under his belt, is the most experienced racer in car number "4"
"I’m extremely pleased about competing with my two team-mates for Audi at Le Mans. I’m sure that we’ll be forming a superb team. I’ve got two good team-mates in Marco (Bonanomi) and Oliver (Jarvis). We tested together several times and I’ve known both of them for some time. Of the three of us I’m the one with the most extensive experience in the LMP at Le Mans but my team-mates have also driven and won races around the world. That’s a good mix. We’re very young yet experienced. I expect us to have a chance for a good race. My dream would be to stand on the podium because I know how difficult that is."

The Audi drivers at Le Mans

Marco Bonanomi (I):
* Mar 12, 1985 in Lecco (I); residence: Colle Brianza (I); single; height: 1.76 m; weight: 69 kg; Audi driver since 2011; Le Mans victories: 0; WEC races: 1; WEC victories: 0; WEC pole positions: 0; WEC fastest laps: 0; best result Le Mans 24 Hours: -

Dindo Capello (I): * Jun 17, 1964 in Asti (I); residence: Canelli (I); married to Elisabetta, one son (Giacomo); height: 1.72 m; weight: 66 kg; Audi driver since 1994; Le Mans victories: 3; WEC races: 2; WEC victories: 1; WEC pole positions: 0; WEC fastest laps: 0; best result Le Mans 24 Hours: 1

Romain Dumas (F): *Dec 14, 1977 in Alès (F); residence: Basel (CH); single; height: 1.74 m; weight: 60 kg; Audi driver since 2009; Le Mans victories: 1; WEC races: 2; WEC victories: 1; WEC pole positions: 0; WEC fastest laps: 0; best result Le Mans 24 Hours: 1

Loïc Duval (F):
*Jun 12, 1982 in Chartres (F); residence: Tokyo (J); single; height: 1.78 m; weight: 70 kg; Audi driver since 2012; Le Mans victories: 0; WEC races: 2; WEC victories: 1; WEC pole positions: 0; WEC fastest laps: 0; best result Le Mans 24 Hours: 5

Marcel Fässler (CH): *May 27, 1976 in Einsiedeln (CH); residence: Gross (CH); married to Isabel, four daughters (Shana, Elin, Yael and Delia); height 1.78 m; weight 78 kg; Audi driver since 2008; Le Mans victories: 1; WEC races: 2; WEC victories: 0; WEC pole positions: 0; WEC fastest laps: 1; best result Le Mans 24 Hours: 1

Marc Gené (E): * Mar 29, 1974 in Sabadell (E); residence: Barcelona (E); single, one son (Patrick) and one daughter (Sienna); height: 1.73 m; weight: 69 kg; Audi driver since 2012; Le Mans victories: 1; WEC races: 1; WEC victories: 1; WEC pole positions: 0; WEC fastest laps: 0; best result Le Mans 24 Hours: 1

Oliver Jarvis (GB): * Jan 9, 1984 in Burwell (GB); residence: Burwell (GB); single; height: 1.80 m; weight: 70 kg; Audi driver since 2008; Le Mans victories: 0; WEC races: 1; WEC victories: 0; WEC pole positions: 0; WEC fastest laps: 0; best result Le Mans 24 Hours: -

Tom Kristensen (DK): *Jul 07, 1967 in Hobro (DK); residence: Monaco (MC); single (partner: Hanne), two sons (Oliver and Oswald) and one daughter (Carla Malou); height: 1.74 m; weight: 72 kg; Audi driver since 2000; Le Mans victories: 8; WEC races: 2; WEC victories: 1; WEC pole positions: 0; WEC fastest laps: 0; best result Le Mans 24 Hours: 1

André Lotterer (D): *Nov 19, 1981 in Duisburg (D); residence: Tokyo (J); single; height 1.84 m; weight 74 kg; Audi driver since 2010; Le Mans victories: 1; WEC races: 2; WEC victories: 0; WEC pole positions: 1; WEC fastest laps: 1; best result Le Mans 24 Hours: 1

Allan McNish (GB): *Dec 29, 1969 in Dumfries (GB); residence: Monaco (MC); married to Kelly, one son (Finlay), one daughter (Charlotte); height: 1.65 m; weight: 60 kg; Audi driver since 2000; Le Mans victories: 2; WEC races: 2; WEC victories: 1; WEC pole positions: 1; WEC fastest laps: 0; best result Le Mans 24 Hours: 1

Mike Rockenfeller (D):
* Oct 31,1983 in Neuwied (D); residence: Altnau (CH); single, partner Susanne; height: 1.75 m; weight: 67 kg; Audi driver since 2007; Le Mans victories: 1; WEC races: 0; WEC victories: 0; WEC pole positions: 0; WEC fastest laps: 0; best result Le Mans 24 Hours: 1

Benoît Tréluyer (F): *Dec 07, 1976 in Alençon (F); residence: Gordes (F); married to Melanie, 1 son (Jules); height 1.78 m; weight 68 kg; Audi driver since 2010; Le Mans victories: 1; WEC races: 2; WEC victories: 0; WEC pole positions: 0; WEC fastest laps: 0; best result Le Mans 24 Hours: 1

All winners of the Le Mans 24 Hours (since 2000)

2000 Biela/Kristensen/Pirro (Audi)
2001 Biela/Kristensen/Pirro (Audi)
2002 Biela/Kristensen/Pirro (Audi)

2003 Capello/Kristensen/Smith (Bentley)
2004 Ara/Capello/Kristensen (Audi)
2005 Kristensen/Lehto/Werner (Audi)
2006 Biela/Pirro/Werner (Audi)
2007 Biela/Pirro/Werner (Audi)
2008 Capello/Kristensen/McNish (Audi)

2009 Brabham/Gené/Wurz (Peugeot)
2010 Bernhard/Dumas/Rockenfeller (Audi)
2011 Fässler/Lotterer/Tréluyer (Audi)

Track info

Track length: 13.629 km
Race duration: 24 hours
Qualifying record on this track: Stéphane Sarrazin (Peugeot), Jun 11, 2008, 3m 18.513s (247.16 km/h)
Race record on this track: Loïc Duval (Peugeot), Jun 13, 2010, 3m 19.074s (246,463 km/h)
Pole position 2011: Benoît Tréluyer (Audi), Jun 10, 2011, 3m 25.738s (238,480 km/h)
Fastest lap 2011: André Lotterer (Audi), Jun 12, 2011, 3m 25.289s (239,002 km/h)
Distance record Le Mans 24 Hours: Timo Bernhard/Romain Dumas/Mike Rockenfeller (Audi), Jun 12/13, 2010, 5,410.713 km in 24h 01m 23.694s (225,228 km/h)

Marcel Fässler about Le Mans:
"Le Mans is a track that offers an incredible variety over a length of nearly 14 kilometers. Extremely long straights, very slow turns such as Mulsanne or Arnage and challenging high-speed corners like Indianapolis and the Porsche corners mean a very special rhythm. With an average of more than 230 km/h the track is incredibly fast. We’re mostly driving on public roads that are closed to normal traffic. This year, the circuit has various sections with fresh tarmac. Our Audi R18 e-tron quattro feels very good on the new track, as we could see on the test day."

WEC drivers’ standings after 2 of 8 rounds

1 Dumas/Duval, 43 points, 2 Capello/Kristensen/McNish, 41; 3 Gené, 25; 4 Fässler/Lotterer/Tréluyer, 19.5; 5 Bernhard, 18; 6 Sarrazin/Dalziel/Potolicchio, 15.5; 7 Pla/Nicolet, 13.5; 8 Heidfeld/Jani/Prost, 12.5; 9 Kane/Watts/Leventis, 12; 10 Primat/Belicchi, 10.5.

WEC manufacturers’ standings after 2 of 8 rounds
1 Audi, 52 points


Sunday, June 10

14:30 - 19:00 Technical and administrative scrutineering
(Audi Sport Team Joest 15:30 - 16:40)

Monday, June 11
10:00 - 18:00 Technical and administrative scrutineering

Tuesday, June 12
17:00 Autograph session

Wednesday, June 13
16:00-20:00 Free practice
22:00-24:00 Qualifying

Thursday, June 14
19:00-21:00 Qualifying
22:00-24:00 Qualifying

Friday, June 15
10:00-20:00 Pit walk
14:00 Audi press conference
17:30-19:30 Drivers’ parade

Saturday, June 16

09:00-09:45 Warm-up
14:22 Beginning of starting procedure
15:00 Start

Sunday, June 17
15:00 Finish
Approx. 15:30 ACO press conference

Audi Sport.

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