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In order to further develop hybrid technology, Audi will test it in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
During the last decade, Audi became the dominant force in long distance sports car racing, winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans in no less than nine out of 11 starts. In the process, Audi became the first manufacturer to win the race with a car propelled by a diesel engine in 2006. This year, however, they will try to go even further by winning the race with a hybrid. For the 2012 event (in mid-June), Audi will enter four cars (two hybrid and two diesel) in the premier LMP1 category.
The hybrid systems for racing are now in the development stages and Audi is supposed to unveil it towards the end of the month. "To develop the hybrid technology for Le Mans is at least as ambitious and challenging as our diesel project was in its early stages," explains Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. "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."
At the 80th running of the French endurance classic, Audi will compete 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 designated. Those drivers are Andre 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 May 5. For the World Championship opener at Sebring on March 17, the Audi Sport Team will once again rely on the Audi R18 TDI that proved victorious at Le Mans last year.