The racing season is not over yet! This weekend we will see the final showdown between Audi and Peugeot. Just as the Audi R18 made its U.S. racing debut last month at Petit Le Mans, China will witness the R18 for the first time. Audi Sport is coming off some strong wins in the DTM as well as auto sales numbers in China. Peugeot has the latest “controversial” win between the two at Petit Le Mans. Audi Sport will have three customer R8 LMS cars running as well.
As early as in the first week of October the brand with the four rings equaled the Chinese sales record from the entire year of 2010. In 2011, Audi expects sales to reach the level of more than 300,000 vehicles there for the first time. For Audi, the finale of the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup (ILMC) at Zhuhai is thus a fitting occasion to celebrate the Chinese record.
The brand’s success in China is also rooted in motorsport. In 1985 and 1986, the legendary Audi quattro won the Hong Kong–Beijing Rally two consecutive times. Audi competed with the A4 DTM at Shanghai twice. And on the debut of the sports prototypes at Zhuhai last year the spectators were thrilled by the Audi R15 TDI.
Now the Chinese fans can look forward to the Audi R18 TDI, the vehicle that is arguably the world’s most fascinating race car in terms of technology. It embodies the company’s ultra-lightweight design technology and demonstrates downsizing at the highest level. Although the engine’s cubic capacity was reduced from last year’s 5.5 to 3.7 liters the R18 TDI is hardly slower than its predecessor. And it impressively proved that it is possible to win the Le Mans 24 Hours even with an ultra-compact diesel engine. In 2006, Audi was the first automobile manufacturer to win the Le Mans 24 Hours with a diesel-powered vehicle. Since June 2010 Audi has been the first brand to have entered its name on the winners’ list of the world’s most important endurance race with a V6 TDI engine. And the preparations for the 2012 season have long been in full swing at Audi Sport in Ingolstadt and Neckarsulm.
But before the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup becomes the FIA World Endurance Championship next year, which upgrades the sports prototypes even further, Audi is making every effort to close its successful motorsport season at Zhuhai with a victory. There is no doubt about the Audi R18 TDI having the potential to do so. Most recently, though, it had been lacking a tiny bit of the necessary racing luck.
Yet the fans at Zhuhai will not only have the opportunity to experience the two LMP1 sports cars that will again be driven by Timo Bernhard, Marcel Fassler, Tom Kristensen and Allan McNish. The Audi R8 LMS, which has meanwhile become one of the world’s most successful GT3 sports cars with a track record of over 100 victories, will make a grand appearance at the ILMC finale as well. A total of three R8 LMS, fielded by Asian Audi customer teams, will be on the grid. Audi Sport customer racing China is relying on Edoardo Mortara, Darryl O’Young and Alexandre Imperatori. Audi race experience China is competing with Jeffrey Lee and Florian Gruber. Driving duties of the R8 LMS from Hitotsuyama Racing are shared by Akihiro Tsuzuki, Michael Kim and Carlo van Dam. Their rival in the GTC class is the former Formula One World Champion Mika Hakkinen, among others.
Audi fans around the world will be able to watch the ILMC finale live on the internet on Audi.tv. The broadcast from Zhuhai will start at 11 a.m. local time (4 a.m. CET) on November 13. Eurosport will broadcast the final stages of the race live from 8:30 to 10:00 a.m. (CET).
- Audi Motorsport