Audi Motorsport have confirmed that recently signed reserve driver Marc Gene will drive in place of Timo Bernhard at the 24 Hours of Le Mans later this month as the German driver continues to recover following a testing accident March.
Gene, previously part of the Le mans winning team for Peugeot Sport in 2009, was signed by Audi as reserve driver earlier this year, filling in for Bernhard at the Six Hours of Spa-Francorchamps in driving alongside Loic Duval and Romain Dumas. The three drivers, sharing the no.3 Audi R18 Ultra, won the race overall, and will reform this weekend for the official Le Mans test day.
The decision brings to an end a run of three consecutive Le Mans starts for Bernhard, including victory on the 2010 event co-driving with Dumas and Mike Rockenfeller.
“I'm very pleased with the steps I've managed to make during this time,” said Bernhard. “We've created a tight system of medical checks, so my progress has constantly been monitored. Unfortunately, there's not enough time before the Le Mans 24 Hours to become 100% fit again. Le Mans is a world-class race that doesn't allow any compromises. I only want to compete at this event in perfect physical condition. That's why on the advice of my doctors and in close coordination with Audi I decided not to run at Le Mans this year.”
“All of us had very much been wishing for Timo to be fit again for the test day and the Le Mans 24 Hours,” said Head of Audi Motorsport, Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. “Unfortunately, the time was too short for this. That's a real shame for Timo and for us too. Despite this responsible and probably not easy decision there's generally positive news as well, as we all know that Timo will completely recover again. Naturally, he will continue to enjoy our full support.”
“By signing Marc GenÃ© in April as a reserve driver we've got a tried and tested solution for the current situation. Marc will now be nominated as a racer driver in the number “3” car. At Spa, he took advantage of the opportunity to get to know the team and to immediately show a very good performance.”