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Audi to compete with hybrid drive at Le Mans for the first time; prototype to be presented at end of February

Audi will compete in the 80th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans on 16-17 June 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 will also follow a two-pronged approach in the newly created FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) during the 2012 season.

Audi racked up its first win for a TFSI engine in 2001 and for a diesel-powered car (the Audi R10 TDI) in 2006. (Earlier post.)

To develop the hybrid technology for Le Mans is at least as ambitious and challenging as our diesel project was in its early stages. 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.

—Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, Head of Audi Motorsport

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 5 May. For the World Championship opener at Sebring on 17 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.



Le Mans Hybrids: Audi vs Toyoto - do I hear three..


Peugeot WAS doing a hybrid before they pulled out entirely :-(

Oh well, this will still bring on a new era. And we'll get to see them go heads up against their non-hybrid counterparts so it will be a great comparison with Audi running both!

But man, I loved those Peugeot beasts. Got to see them in person at Petite Le Mans last year....simply awesome!

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