Audi's new-for-2012 Le Mans Prototypes - R18 ultra and R18 e-tron quattro (Photo Credit: Audi Motorsport)

Audi's new-for-2012 Le Mans Prototypes - R18 ultra and R18 e-tron quattro (Photo Credit: Audi Motorsport)

The introduction of a fourth entry as part of their World Endurance Championship (WEC) and 24 Hours of Le Mans programs has forced Audi Motorsport into changing their established driver line-ups ahead of this season.

Audi's campaign in the first WEC season consists of a mix of two, three and four car entries and a combination of the R18 TDI and the new for 2012 R18 ultra and R18 e-tron quattro hybrid racer.

The season starts on March 17 with the 12 Hours of Sebring, where Audi will bring a three car team, relying entirely on the older car to start the year, before introducing the new machines for Spa-Francorchamps ahead of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The remainder of the season – it is planned – will see a one of each of the two new cars contesting each race.

The driving teams are a mix of the established and new. Audi keep together the three drivers who won the 2011 24 Hours of Le Mans – Andre Lotterer, Benoit Treluyer and Marcel Fassler – and their most experienced line-up with multiple winners Tom Kristensen, Allan McNish and Dindo Capello teamed together again.

While the responsibility for racing the new hybrid at both Spa and Le Mans will fall to their established crews – a pair of new look driver line-ups will drive the lightweight the R18 ultra at both rounds.

Timo Bernhard and Romain Dumas – both familiar names in Audi endurance set-up – are joined by Loic Duval. The 29-year-old Frenchman joins Audi after impressing as part of the Team ORECA-Matmut team in recent years, driving the team's privateer Peugeot 908 HDI FAP at Le Mans in 2010 and 2011.

The final line-up puts together two of Audi's DTM alumnus Mike Rockenfeller and Briton Oliver Jarvis with Italian Marco Bonanomi. Though Bonanomi is a new name to endurance racing, he enters the team after GT racing campaigns with Audi Sport Italia in the R8 LMS after a single seater career that peaked at GP2.