Earlier this year when Audi announced their 2008 racing plans, they declined to commit to the American Le Mans Series beyond the opener at the 12 Hours of Sebring. Thankfully, just before this weekend's race, Audi confirmed that they will indeed run the full ALMS season with two of their diesel powered R10 TDIs. Audi has made clear that they are racing in spite of the fact that ALMS rules adjustments have given the smaller LMP2 cars an advantage over the LMP1s like the R10 and the Peugeot 908. Nonetheless, With Audi preparing to make a major push for their U.S.-market TDIs late this year, and the ALMS actively encouraging alternative fuels, they've decided to stick around in the U.S. series. Now, if Peugeot would just agree to leave the 908 here to run against the Audis we'd have some amazing races.
Audi to defend title in the American Le Mans Series
Ingolstadt/Sebring – In spite of regulations that further penalize the most powerful cars, AUDI AG once again will compete in the American Le Mans Series as a factory team in the 2008 season. Team Audi Sport North America enters two Audi R10 TDI prototypes in all eleven races of the popular sportscar championship. Audi confirmed this prior to the 12 Hours of Sebring (USA), the opening round of the American Le Mans Series.
Although computer simulations show that the lighter LM P2 sports cars have an advantage over the "bigger" LM P1 class on seven of the eleven circuits visited by the American Le Mans Series, Audi nevertheless faces this challenge. "The American Le Mans Series is an excellent platform in America for an automobile manufacturer to compete in motorsport at a high-level with innovative technology," explains Head of Audi Motorsport Dr Wolfgang Ullrich. "We want to continue to use this platform and, more specifically, to support the diesel campaign in the USA. We will show fighting spirit and in spite of the situation with the regulations try to win."
The near 650-hp Audi R10 TDI was the pioneer for the "Green Racing" initiative with which the American Le Mans Series regards itself as a meaningful, environmentally aware race series in its tenth year of existence. The R10 TDI also heralds the TDI offensive that Audi starts in the USA in 2008.
The two Audi R10 TDI cars are entered in the American Le Mans Series by Team Audi Sport North America again in the 2008 season. Champion Racing members form the team's core. German duo Lucas Luhr and Marco Werner contest the full championship. Frank Biela (Germany) and Emanuele Pirro (Italy) share the second Audi R10 TDI from the St Petersburg race onwards.
Reigning LM P1 Champions Dindo Capello (Italy) and Allan McNish (Scotland) will not defend their title: Both will race for Audi Sport Team Joest in the Le Mans Series in Europe this season. Their team mates in Europe will be Alexandre Prémat (France) and Mike Rockenfeller (Germany).
Audi has competed in the American Le Mans Series since 2000, winning the LM P1 class championship eight times in succession with 61 overall race victories and is by far the most successful automobile manufacturer in the series.
2008 American Le Mans Series schedule
15/03 Sebring (Florida)
05/04 St Petersburg (Florida)
19/04 Long Beach (California)
18/05 Salt Lake City (Utah)
12/07 Lime Rock Park (Connecticut)
19/07 Mid-Ohio (Ohio)
09/08 Road America (Wisconsin)
24/08 Mosport (Ontario/CDN)
30/08 Detroit (Michigan)
04/10 Road Atlanta (Georgia)
18/10 Laguna Seca (California)