Audi's four-car assault heads 2012 Le Mans 24 Hours entry list
|By Gary Watkins||Thursday, February 2nd 2012, 17:23 GMT|
Audi heads the entry for this year's Le Mans 24 Hours with a four-car assault that will include two hybrid versions of its R18 coupe.
The German manufacturer has opted to split its entry between its new diesel-electric hybrid, which has been testing since last autumn, and a conventional turbodiesel version of the R18.
Audi Sport boss Wolfgang Ullrich said: "The first test results [of the hybrid] are very encouraging and we are intrigued to see just how this technology performs on the race track at Le Mans.
"We still, however, see the potential with conventional drive, just as our colleagues do in the production department. This why we are absolutely delighted that the Automobile Club de l'Ouest and FIA selection committee has accepted our entries and that we can join the grid with four cars."
One driver has been nominated against each of the four Joest-run cars at this stage, as per Le Mans rules.
DTM driver Oliver Jarvis is listed against one of the conventional R18s, which puts him on course for his first Le Mans 24 Hours with the factory Joest team. The Briton previously raced at Le Mans in a customer Kolles Audi in 2010.
Andre Lotterer, Allan McNish and Timo Bernhard are the nominated drivers in the other three cars.
The new R18 Hybrid, which is understood to use a flywheel energy-storage system rather than batteries, will make its debut in the Spa round of the FIA World Endurance Championship in May.
Audi will run two cars in the full WEC and three in the season-opening Sebring 12 Hours next month and at Spa.
Toyota has two of its new TS030 HYBRIDS on the entry list. Super GT driver Hiroaki Ishiura is listed against the second entry, making him the first confirmed driver in this car.
The US Dyson Racing, winners of last year's American Le Mans Series, is on course to race at the 24 Hours for the first time in its history. It has taken up both of its guaranteed slots and will field its pair of new LMP1 Lola-Mazda B12/60 coupes.
Marino Franchitti has been nominated to drive the Highcroft-run Delta Wing, which was awarded the 56th entry for a car using experimental technologies last year.
The Kodewa Lotus LMP2 team has only one entry for Le Mans. Its second Lola coupe is on the reserve list.
The US Starworks Grand-Am team, which finished in last weekend's Daytona 24 Hours, is expanding into the Le Mans prototype ranks for the first time in P2. It will run a new Honda Performance Development HPD ARX-03b at Le Mans and in the full FIA World Endurance Championship.
Venezuelan Enzo Potolicchio is the nominated driver at this stage, but Starworks regular Ryan Dalziel is known to be part of the programme. The Signatech Nissan team has expanded to two entries, as expected. Jordan Tresson, who is moving up to LMP2 this year, and team regular Franck Mailleux are its two nominated drivers at this stage.
The Boutsen and TDS teams, frontrunners in last year's Le Mans Series in Europe, have gained entries for Le Mans for the first time with their ORECA-Nissan 03s despite not entering the WEC.
The publication of the entry list finally confirms Aston Martin Racing's switch to the GTE division after the end of the AMR-One prototype programme It will field two Vantage GT2s at Le Mans and in the WEC.
Nine cars are on the reserve list, including the second Lotus LMP2 and another P2 Lola from Status GP.
The full entry list can be found here.