– Fourth round of the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup in Italy
– Audi Sport Team Joest with two new race cars
– New aerodynamics package for more downforce
Only three weeks after the triumph at the Le Mans 24 Hours the next endurance test is on the agenda for the Audi R18 TDI. The 6-hour race at Imola, Italy, is about scoring important points in the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup (ILMC) – the racing series that in 2012 will evolve into the FIA World Endurance Championship.
Audi Sport Team Joest did not have a lot of time to celebrate the tenth Le Mans victory. Since Audi wants to use the winning car designated as number “2” for exhibitions and demo drives as many as two new race cars (R18-103 und R18-107) had to be built up after the huge accidents of Allan McNish and Mike Rockenfeller. In addition, an aerodynamics package designed for higher downforce that will be used for the first time at Imola was tested in the week after the Lausitzring DTM race.
What has remained unchanged is the message featured on the two silver-colored R18 TDI cars. Audi Sport Team Joest advertises the company’s ultra-lightweight technology which proved its viability at Le Mans in a twofold sense. Not least thanks to the weight optimization the R18 TDI was the fastest vehicle at Le Mans. And as the two heavy accidents haven proven, ultra-lightweight technology and high passive safety do not contradict each other.
Only ten days after his accident at Le Mans Allan McNish was thus able to participate in a test with the R18 TDI. At Imola the Scotsman will share the cockpit of car number “2” (yellow color markings) with Le Mans record winner Tom Kristensen who like McNish and test driver Marco Bonanomi tested as well.
At the wheel of car number “1” (red color markings) Timo Bernhard and Marcel Fässler will form a driver pairing for the first time. Kristensen/McNish and Bernhard/Fässler are also planned to contest the other three ILMC races at Silverstone, Road Atlanta and Zhuhai.
Where as Bernhard, Fässler and McNish have raced at Imola before Tom Kristensen has familiarized himself with the Italian race track in a simulator. Consequently, all four drivers know what is in store for them: a race at which the brakes will play an important part and where the situation will be pretty tight on the track as about 50 vehicles will be running at the event.
Audi Sport Team Joest will travel to Italy as the leader of the team standings. In the manufacturers classification Audi is ranking 34 points behind Peugeot in second place.
The Imola 6 Hours will start at 1200 hrs on Sunday, July 3. Audi offers all sports car fans the possibility to watch the entire race live on the internet. In addition to the race pictures, onboard footage and telemetry data will be available at http://www.audi-microsites.com/lemans. On Facebook and Twitter channels of Audi Sport the five-time Le Mans winner Emanuele Pirro will provide current background information.
Topics of the weekend
– How strong will the Audi R18 TDI be with its high-downforce aerodynamics?
– How well will Timo Bernhard and Marcel Fässler harmonize with each other?
– Will the Audi R18 TDI again clinch the pole position at its third event?
Quotes by the officials
Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport): “We’re arriving at Imola as the Le Mans winner and want to make a good showing there too. It’ll be an intensive weekend for Audi Sport since the DTM race at the Norisring will be held on the same weekend as well. Naturally, it would be great to win both races on the same day. We’ve built up two new cars for Imola and will be driving with an aerodynamics variant designed for higher downforce for the first time. I’m very eager to see where we’ll stand with that compared to the competition because our friends from Peugeot will do everything to take revenge for the defeat at Le Mans.”
Ralf Jüttner (Technical Director Audi Sport Team Joest): “Imola is new territory for us. I’ve never had a race there before. Our competitor Peugeot will no doubt leave no stone unturned to make up for the defeat at Le Mans. Before the event we had a lot of work because we had to build up two new cars. The ILMC has a manufacturers and a team classification. In the team classification Audi Sport Team Joest has a narrow lead but the classification for the manufacturers is more important. We’ve got to collect a lot of points in order to clinh the title at the end of the season. So our task is clear: We want to try everything and are perfectly motivated after the Le Mans victory. We’re competing with two strong driver combinations – all of them are Le Mans winners. With about 50 cars the track at Imola will be densely packed, particularly since this is a very fluid track where overtaking will be difficult.”
Facts and quotes by the Audi drivers
Timo Bernhard (30/D), Audi R18 TDI #1 (Audi Sport Team Joest)
– Celebrated his first Le Mans victory in 2010
– Clinched the pole position at Spa on the R18 TDI’s debut
“At Imola I’ve contested the Porsche Supercup twice and once barely missed the podium. Obviously, I want to change that in the ILMC now with Audi. The track alone is a nice challenge. It runs counter-clockwise which is rather unusual and requires us drivers to get used to the change. The types of turns vary considerably. There are fast, semi-fast and extremely slow corners. There are almost no straights and these sections always contain arcs. That’ll be difficult in traffic with so many cars on the track. But our benchmark is to be at the very front and to show that the number ‘1’ on our car is justified. I’m particularly looking forward to my first joint race with Marcel (Fässler).”
Marcel Fässler (35/CH), Audi R18 TDI #1 (Audi Sport Team Joest)
– Has just celebrated his first Le Mans victory
– Is forming a driver team with Timo Bernhard up to the end of the season
“After the Le Mans victory I’m incredibly excited about the next ILMC race. I’ll be driving together with Timo Bernhard for the first time. Imola is a fantastic race track. And we’ll be driving there with a configuration of the Audi R18 TDI that suited me particularly well at the tests. So, all the ingredients for a nice race weekend have been put together. Everyone knows what is at stake and the whole team is working together to achieve our common goal: We want to be in front at the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup at the end of the year.”
Tom Kristensen (43/DK), Audi R18 TDI #2 (Audi Sport Team Joest)
– Is racing at Imola for the first time
– Made a brief comeback to the DTM after Le Mans
“I’m traveling to Imola with extremely eager anticipation. I’ve never been there, let alone raced there. The mood at Audi is excellent at the moment. Le Mans was an outstanding victory with this newly developed car. Well over a half a year of work on the race track has been invested in the R18 TDI. Its potential is top-class, it looks good and it has won Le Mans. The ILMC now is about winning races if we want to snatch points from Peugeot. That’s a nice challenge! I learned the track on a simulator. Now I know the line a little on this fantastic circuit that is located in a particularly beautiful part of Italy. I’m hoping for a strong race by Allan (McNish), Marcel (Fässler), Timo (Bernhard) and me in our race car that has been completely built up from scratch.”
Allan McNish (41/GB), Audi R18 TDI #2 (Audi Sport Team Joest)
– Last raced at Imola in 2002, in Formula 1
– Remained uninjured in a heavy accident at Le Mans
“After Audi’s victory at the greatest race of the year, the Le Mans 24 Hours, and the experience I had there, the team and I are fully concentrating on the remaining ILMC races. There is no classification for the drivers but only for the manufacturers and the teams. The gaps are very close. My goal is to help Audi and Audi Sport Team Joest win the ILMC title after the trophy for the 24 Hours has already gone to Germany. Timo (Bernhard), Marcel (Fässler), Tom (Kristensen) and I will do everything within our means to continue Audi’s Le Mans success story now in the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup. The track is fantastic. But it has been significantly modified since I last raced there in 2002. It always had many differences in altitude and now has a continuous, long straight. Doing a good job of getting through the traffic is a real issue as the track is narrow and the turns follow each other very closely. For the Audi R18 TDI we need a good balance between top speed and downforce. The brakes are important too because there are some outstanding opportunities for overtaking in front of some of the turns. By the way this is only the third time that I’m sharing a car only with Tom. The last time we were in this constellation, in China in November, we took second place. We were lacking less than five seconds to victory. And of course we want to win, but this will be a difficult race.”
The Audi drivers at Imola
Timo Bernhard (D): *Feb 24, 1981 in Homburg (D); residence: Dittweiler (D); married to Katharina; height 1.73 m; weight: 61 kg; Audi driver since 2009; Le Mans victories: 1; ILMC races: 6; ILMC victories: 0; pole positions: 1; fastest laps: 0; best result Imola 6 Hours: –
Marcel Fässler (CH): *May 27,1976 in Einsiedeln (CH); residence: Gross (CH); married to Isabel, four daughters (Shana, Elin, Yael, Delia); height 1.78 m; weight 78 kg; Audi driver since 2008; Le Mans victories: 1; ILMC races: 2; ILMC victories: 1; pole positions: 0; fastest laps: 0; best result Imola 6 Hours: –
Tom Kristensen (DK): *Jul 07, 1967 in Hobro (DK); residence: Monaco (MC); single (partner Hanne), two sons (Oliver and Oswald) and one daughter (Carla Marlou); height: 1.74 m; weight: 72 kg; Audi driver since 2000; Le Mans victories: 8; ILMC races: 6; ILMC victories: 0; pole positions: 0; fastest laps: 0; best result Imola 6 Hours: –
Allan McNish (GB): *Dec 29, 1969 in Dumfries (GB); residence: Monaco (MC); married to Kelly, one son (Finlay), one daughter (Charlotte Amelie); height: 1.65 m; weight: 58 kg; Audi driver since 2000; Le Mans victories: 2; ILMC races: 6; ILMC victories: 0; pole positions: 1; fastest laps: 0; best result Imola 6 Hours: –
Marcel Fässler about Imola: “Imola is not only very fast but also fluid to drive. We drive counter-clockwise. The chicane after the Acque Minerali corner is notably narrow. Its high kerbs can easily damage the aerodynamics. The circuit is hard on the brakes because there is no long straight for cooling down. The fields of entrants at sports car events are often filled really well. But since the track at Imola is relatively narrow you’ve got to be careful when overtaking. From my experience the most difficult place is the Acque Minerali section. The car’s load is primarily on the left and you’ve got drive with extreme precision when braking to take a lot of speed with you without the rear getting out of control. I ’m really happy to be traveling to Imola. Not only the track is great, but it is also in a very nice location. That makes for a good ambience.”
ILMC LMP1 manufacturers standings after 3 of 7 rounds:
1 Peugeot 103 points; 2 Audi, 69.
ILMC LMP1 team standings after 1 of 7 rounds:
1 Audi Sport Team Joest, 50 points; 2 Peugeot Sport Total, 49; 3 Team ORECA Matmut, 34; 4 Rebellion Racing, 26.
Friday, July 1
12:15-13:45 Free practice 1
16:30-18:00 Free practice 2
Saturday, July 2
08:55-09:55 Free practice 3
14:25-14:45 Qualifying (prototypes)
Sunday, July 3
12:00-18:00 Race (6 hours)