U.S. debut of the Audi R18 TDI
- Audi aims for tenth “Petit Le Mans” victory at Road Atlanta
- First overseas run of the diesel race sports car
- Dindo Capello and Romain Dumas reinforce the Audi squad
In June Audi celebrated its tenth victory with the R18 TDI diesel race sports car and ultra-lightweight technology in a dramatic race at the famous Le Mans 24 Hours. Likewise, on October 1st, Audi Sport Team Joest is aiming for the brand’s tenth triumph at the U.S. counterpart, the “Petit Le Mans” at Road Atlanta in the state of Georgia.
Audi Sport Team Joest is fielding two vehicles at the first overseas event of the R18 TDI. Each will car will have three drivers due to the length of the race. Timo Bernhard and Marcel Fässler, who have been forming a driver team in the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup (ILMC) since the round at Imola and have been on the podium twice, will be supported by Romain Dumas. Joining Le Mans record winner Tom Kristensen and Allan McNish will be Dindo Capello – the most successful driver of the American classic with a track record of five overall victories (2000, 2002, 2006, 2007 and 2008).
Last year the Italian became the victim of a strange incident. While he was leading the race an insert in his helmet that is prescribed by the regulations came loose and caused the fireproof balaclava to slip over his eyes. The unscheduled pit stop cost Audi a possible victory.
Minute details could also be crucial this year. At Le Mans Audi triumphed in June after 24 hours with an advantage of merely 13.854 seconds. At the 6-hour race at Silverstone the fastest lap times of the top four vehicles were within 202 thousandths of a second. And with 56 teams having submitted entries, the track at Road Atlanta will be pretty packed, with numerous overtaking maneuvers posing a permanent risk of body contact.
After third place at Imola and second place at Silverstone there is just one goal for Audi at the U.S. classic on October 1st: victory. Therefore, Audi Sport Team Joest will already be testing on the weekend before the race at Road Atlanta in order to set up the R18 TDI as perfectly as possible for the special characteristics of the track and not leave anything to chance.
Nothing was left to chance either by the engineers from Audi Sport who developed the new diesel race sports car. The Audi R18 TDI is packed with innovative technology – from the compact 3.7-liter V6 TDI engine with a mono-VTG charger, the full LED headlights through to ultra-lightweight design that is becoming increasingly important in production cars too.
Tens of thousands of spectators lining the track at Road Atlanta will be watching the two R18 TDI cars with their whispering V6 TDI engines. Since its inaugural round in 1998, “Petit Le Mans” has evolved into one of North America’s biggest racing events that is meanwhile attracting more than 100,000 fans.
Qualifying will take place on Friday afternoon (September 30) from 15:30 to 15:45, local time; the race will start on Saturday (October 1) at 11:30. Eurosport will broadcast the starting phase from 17:30 to 18:30 and the final phase from 00:00 to 03:30 live. In the USA the race will be broadcast live on ESPN 3. ABC will air a two-hour summary on Sunday (October 2) starting at 16:00 Eastern Time.