Heading into the final run for the year that was 2012, the future regarding sports car competitions measured in hours has been a focus of announcements by Audi. Activities surrounding the Audi R18 e-tron quattro prototype race car set again to be the premium car brand’s focus in 2013. A three-car effort at the historic 24 Hours of Le Mans will be part of another endeavour into the full FIA WEC (World Endurance Championship) schedule.
For United States Audi customers and fans, loyalists will be awarded with another season of competition on the horizon in coming months.
Audi R18 e-tron quattro Doubles Up on US Appearances in 2013
The United States stint of the 2012 season was highlighted with the Audi R18 TDI cruising to victory at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. The triumph by driving team of Allan McNish, Tom Kristensen and Dindo Capello was the 10th time since 2000 that Audi claimed top honours at the Sebring International Raceway. In the case of 2012, the Sebring 12-hour win supplied momentum that allowed Audi Sport Team Joest to not only take the 24 Hours of Le Mans but the 2012 FIA World Endurance Championship’s LM class title.
The past few years, the technological prototype effort from Audi Sport Team Joest was sparsely featured on North American soil. Showing up for only the 2012 Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring as part of the FIA WEC, the Audi R18 LMP1 category machines will return to Sebring with an updated version of the e-tron quattro diesel-electric hybrid on somewhat a bittersweet note for March 16th of 2013.
Indications the 2013 Sebring race could be last for the Audi prototype effort as the Grand-Am Series and American Le Mans Series will form a new sports car championship in 2014. Audi Motorsport Dr Wolfgang Ullrich suggested, “We’d really like to use this chance and say goodbye to the fans with a nice showing after our fantastic success story in recent years.”. Bringing some much-needed relief to a rather somber declaration regarding competition at Sebring, a 2013 WEC date added to the Austin, Texas Circuit of the Americas on September 22nd. The goodbye could also be premature depending on the structure of the 2014 North American Sports Car Championship. It is possible the class rules could extend an olive branch to the high-tech prototype racers.
Audi R8 Grand-Am Car Reloaded for 2013 Campaign
In Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series, 2012 marked the debut of a customer team driven effort in the tour’s GT category with the Audi R8 Grand Am racer. Converting the Audi R8 LMS competition car to conform to the Grand-Am class vehicle regulations, a rather toilsome debut at the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona did provide valuable notes used to improve the R8 Grand Am sports car’s effort continuing through the 2012 season. At the season finale race at Lime Rock Park, the #51 APR Motorsport fielded Audi R8 Grand-Am finished a close second-place in the GT class.
Progress from 2012 is giving optimism that the 2013 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series could result in the Audi R8 being a more consistent force for the GT category. As of late December, the entry list for the 2013 Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona have to Audi customer effort consisting of four cars. APR Motorsport has a two-car team while there will also be single Audi R8 entrants from Rum Bum Racing and Alex Job Racing will compete in the daylong race in late January.
The growing sales of Audi road cars in North America compels the German auto brand to make a memorable impact on the upcoming United States races in 2013. When the auto racing season commences, it will be up to the drivers and crews behind the Audi R18 e-tron quattro as well as the Audi R8 Grand-Am car to make the hours of 2013 count.
Information source: Audi AG, FIA, Grand-Am
Photo source: Audi AG, Grand-Am