The inaugural World Endurance Championship kicks off this weekend with the Sebring 12 Hours, and while the departure of Peugeot from the sportscar fray has left Audi with a likely open goal, Toyota's decision to up its involvement in its first year back is a welcome boost.
With that likely to form the picture in the top LMP1 category, there are plenty of squads ready to battle for honours in LMP2, GTE Pro and GTE Am to keep you entertained too.
#1. Andre Lotterer (D)*, Benoit Treluyer (F), Marcel Fassler (CH)
#2. Allan McNish (GB)*, Tom Kristensen (DK), Rinaldo Capello (I)
#3**. Timo Bernhard (D), Romain Dumas (F), Loic Duval (F)
*Only drivers confirmed for full WEC
**Extra car for Sebring, Spa and Le mans only. Not eligible for manufacturers' points except at Le Mans.
Audi must start as a clear favourite for the inaugural FIA World Endurance Championship in the absence of Peugeot, with what will become a split strategy after the season-opening Sebring 12 Hours. The team runs three uprated 2011 TDIs in round one before switching to one e-tron quattro hybrid and one conventional ultra turbodiesel. The driver line-up has a look of extreme familiarity about it, with eight of Audi's nine pilots listed for Sebring having won at Le Mans. The exception is Frenchman Loic Duval, who joins the German manufacturer after impressing in a two-year stint with ORECA (including a Sebring victory last year) alongside his title-winning Super GT commitments with Toyota in Japan. Two diesels and two hybrids are entered for Spa and Le Mans, with Oliver Jarvis, Marco Bonanomi and Mike Rockenfeller driving the extra machine.
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