Audi Motorsport will rely wholly on their hybrid drive R18 e-tron quattro LMP1 car for the 2013 FIA World Endurance Championship and 24 Hours of Le Mans as they seek to retain their titles.
The e-tron quattro was introduced in 2012, racing for the first time at the Six Hours of Spa-Francorchamps before making history as the first hybrid winner at Le Mans as Andre Lotterer, Marcel Fassler and Benoit Treluyer scored their second win in the legendary endurance race.
The trio would go on to win the WEC title, beating Audi teammates Allan McNish and Tom Kristensen to the title. After racing in a hybrid car at Spa-Francorchamps and Le Mans McNish and Kristensen drove a conventionally powered R18 ultra for much of the WEC season, converting back to the e-tron quattro for the final races of the year.
For the 2013, however, Audi will field a pair of updated e-trons for the entire WEC season, with a third hybrid added for the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Six Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, the Belgian round of the championship again acting a ‘dress rehearsal’ for Le Mans.
As well as commitments in the WEC the team have admitted they are planning an entry in 12 Hours of Sebring, which lost its place on the WEC calendar for 2013.
Another change for Audi’s 2013 campaigns is the driver line-ups, with the trimming of the four car team Audi brought to Le Mans last year necessitating that some drivers do no return to the team.
Dindo Capello exited the driving seat after Le Mans into retirement, but Marco Bonanomi and Mike Rockenfeller as well as on loan Porsche factory men Romain Dumas and Timo Bernhard do not return.
Lotterer, Fassler and Treluyer lead the nine man team, with Kristensen and McNish confirmed for another season with Audi.
Oliver Jarvis, brought into the works endurance program last season is retained as is Frenchman Loic Duval. Marc Gene, drafted into the team after Bernhard was injured in testing at Sebring remains for another season while Lucas di Grassi, who impressed in a then one-off drive at Interlagos alongside McNish and Kristensen is given a full season with the team that will include his first start in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The exact teams for each car – and so which drivers will man the third car for Spa and Le Mans – has not been confirmed, though Audi have recently been reluctant to split up settled and successful teams, allowing speculation that the championship winning line-up from 2012 may remain unchanged for the new season.