After a successful “test race” at Paul Ricard Audi Sport are ready to mount their final preparations for the Le Mans 24 Hours with three car effort at the 100km of Spa-Francorchamps – a race Dr. Wolfgang Ulrich describes as a “dress rehearsal”.
The team took a commanding with that the Eight Hours of Le Castellet last month in the first race with the new R15 'Plus' machine with Allan McNish and Dindo Capello sharing the car.
Spa, however, will see a full three car – nine driver – effort from the Ingolstadt based team with drivers falling into the same line-ups that they will contest the historic French endurance race in.
“For the team the race is primarily a dress rehearsal for Le Mans,” said Dr. Ullrich, head of Audi Motorsports. “But it's a final assessment of where we stand as well.”
“There's no circuit in the world on which you can truly simulate the Le Mans track. Still, I do believe that at Spa it's possible to get an idea of where you stand compared with the competition.”
That means that Mike Rockenfeller, Timo Bernhard and Romain Dumas will share car no.9, an effort officially entered by Audi Sport North America. Audi's new line-up of Marcel Fassler, Andre Lotterer and Benoit Treluyer make their race debut and Tom Kristensen joins McNish and Capello in the 'lead' no.7 car.
Kristensen was forced to miss the Paul Ricard race with an ankle injury picked up pre-season, but the Dane has declared himself “definitely fit and ready” as he works towards adding to the eight Le Mans he already has. He, along with the other eight drivers took part in a 30-hour test at Paul Ricard, furthering development on the new car.
The three Audis are part of a 52 car entry list for the 1000km of Spa, which also forms the second round of the Le Mans Series. Their competitors will include a trio of works entered Peugeot 908 HDI FAP, the current Le Mans 24 Hours champions racing against the new look Audi for the first time, just 34 days before they join battle at La Sarthe.