Audi Motorsport Targets America With 2013 Plans
- Audi's motorsport objectives in 2013 include participation in major American sports car events, including the 24-hour race at Daytona and an "intensified commitment" in the Grand-Am Series.
- The German company summarized its plans at the recent Audi Sport Finale.
- Le Mans and the World Endurance Championship, German touring cars and U.S. races top the priority list.
INGOLSTADT, Germany — The list of priorities for Audi Motorsport in the coming season should give American fans plenty to be excited about, with an enhanced U.S. presence among the top objectives.
Wolfgang Dürheimer, head of technical development at Audi AG, outlined plans for 2013 at the recent Audi Sport Finale.
Next year's program is built around a trio of hybrid R18 E-tron Quattro racecars competing at Le Mans as part of an exclusively hybrid effort to defend the World Endurance Championship title, a commitment to claim the German DTM touring-car series and a return with gusto to the American sports car racing scene.
Privateer entries from Alex Job Racing and Rum Bum Racing will participate in the Rolex 24 at Daytona January 26-27 at Daytona International Speedway, and the company plans a factory-backed entry in the 12 Hours of Sebring March 16.
Participation in both U.S. events is significant, as Audi has been largely absent from the U.S. racing scene since it withdrew from the American Le Mans Series in 2008. It is defending champion at Sebring, but that's because this year's 12 Hours was the opening round of the World Endurance Championship.
The WEC has snubbed Sebring in 2013 in favor of a race later in the season at the new Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, but Audi is returning to Sebring anyway — this time with the Le Mans-winning E-tron Quattro rather than the R18 TDI that won in 2012 ahead of the hybrid's competitive debut.
"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," said Dr. Wolfgang Ulrich, head of motorsport for Audi.
However, an Audi press release suggested that the merged Grand-Am and American Le Mans series coming in 2014 "might be of interest" to the company, which is working on a successor car to meet the new LMP1 regulations that take effect that year.
No doubt, racing is at the forefront for the brand, whose four-ring logo owes to the merging of four brands, including the original Audi, as Auto Union in 1932.
"Successful motorsport is part of our brand DNA," Dürheimer said. "The victories on the world's racetracks underscore our technical expertise in a particularly authentic way — and they strengthen our position on the most important world markets."
Edmunds says: Two chances to watch the E-tron Quattro cars in action will be a treat for American fans — and, hopefully, a preview of more involvement to come by premier racing marques such as Audi in a new sports car environment in 2014.