Audi Gearing Up For Season-Long Title Fight With Toyota

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Audi will begin the defence of their FIA World Endurance Championship crown at Silverstone, the circuit which saw them clinch the title in 2012.

While Silverstone hosts the opening round of the World Endurance Championship, it will be the second event for Audi Sport Team Joest in 2013, following their impressive one-two finish at the Twelve Hours of Sebring in March.

“The title defense for Audi begin in the country that is the European cradle of motorsport – the United Kingdom.” said Head of Audi Motorsport, Dr Wolfgang Ulrich. “A year ago, Audi’s hybrid technology prevailed in a thrilling race at Silverstone where we celebrated the early title win in the manufacturers’ classification of the FIA World Endurance Championship as well. After our victory in the Sebring 12 Hours in March, we’re now excited about our first duel this year with our competitor Toyota.”

Audi will contest the season with two R18 e-tron quattro cars piloted by the teams of Marcel Fassler, Andre Lotterer and Benoit Treluyer, and Loic Duval, Tom Kristensen and Allan McNish. The main competition to the German manufacturer will be the two hybrid competitors of Toyota.

The Silverstone 6-hours saw an epic battle between Audi and Toyota, with the lead changing 14 times and Audi clinching their fourth of five 2012 victories by just 55.675 seconds.

“We’re all looking forward to the World Championship.” added McNish, who started the 2012 round from the front row of the grid. “For me, it starts with a ‘home’ round. The weather at Silverstone will play a role and we’re expecting it to be much colder in April than it was at the last race in summer. If it rains we might have a small advantage thanks to e-tron quattro. But even in the fast turns like in the section from Copse to Stowe our car was very good last year. We’ve been paying attention to improving our acceleration out of slow turns as well. The 2013-specification R18 e-tron quattro is a competitive car.”

The Audi R18 e-tron quattro has been improved in many ways since its last European venture, including optimized aerodynamics, a further developed hybrid system and ultra-lightweight design as well as a new driver assistance system. The new system features two forward-pointing cameras in the roof, improving the drivers view from the cockpit.

New regulations also add a new element to the 2013 season, particularly in qualifying. Two drivers now have to take part in the session, rather than just one, setting at least two timed laps each. The average of the four fastest times will determine the grid position. The manufacturer’s championship also has seen rule changes, with no dropped scores as was in 2012, meaning reliability will be more important than before.

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Based in Mid-Wales, James joined TCF at the start of the 2013 season, covering a range of disciplines, predominantly Motorcycle Road Racing and NASCAR. Follow him on Twitter @JCCharman
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