Regular readers of this site will be well aware of MotorMartin’s love of the WEC and about how much I’m looking forward to the start of the new season. Indeed www.motormartin.com has already posted stories relating to Audi’s 2016 WEC launch https://motormartin.com/2015/12/01/news-more-powerful-and-efficient-than-ever-before-audi-r18-celebrates-world-premiere-in-munich/ and Ford’s amazing 2016 return to Le Mans at https://motormartin.com/2016/02/12/news-four-car-le-mans-entry-accepted-for-ford-50-years-on-from-historic-victory/ and now, to brighten up a quiet day at the Towers, Audi have been in contact with MotorMartin to share the latest news regarding the first race of the 2016 season. So strap yourself in and get ready for the action.
Audi have informed MotorMartin that they will start their fifth season in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) on April 17. On the 5.891-kilometre track at Silverstone near the UK town of Northampton, the brand will be contesting the season opener with two new LMP1 race cars and MotorMartin can’t wait.
We are extremely lucky here in the UK to have so many iconic Motor Racing Circuits all within reach of the homegrown fan. All holding a fascinating range of events for the many public, private and sporting festivities occuring throughout the heart. Indeed, with Brands Hatch, Donnington Park and Silverstone all being famous venues throughout the World, it comes as no surprise to see the UK hosting the opening round of the World Endurance Championship as The Silverstone 6 Hours is a classic on the international sports car calendar. Since 2012, the race has been part of the FIA WEC.
Previously, Audi had been successful on the tradition-steeped circuit with its LMP race cars three times and once with the super touring cars. At last year’s event, endurance racing fans witnessed a thrilling competition, as the Audi drivers and their rivals overtook each other several times per lap. In the end, the brand with the four rings won. Marcel Fässler/André Lotterer/Benoît Tréluyer (CH/D/F) were the fastest drivers last April, crossing the finish line with a 4.6-second advantage following a nail-biting race. And tomorrow, the hybrid sports cars from Audi, Porsche and Toyota will be meeting again in a field of 33 participants in total. Brilliant, MotorMartin can’t wait.
“The cards have been reshuffled this year,” says Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich to MotorMartin. “All the manufacturers will be on the grid with new race cars. The Audi R18 practically has not a single bolt in common anymore with its predecessor. Nobody knows the new relative strengths yet. The Silverstone season opener will be the first assessment of where everyone stands.”
Audi have shared with MotorMartin that they have optimised many areas of their LMP1 race car. The R18’s V6 TDI engine has to run with about ten percent less fuel. Still, Audi intends to remain a powerful contender due to better efficiency. With the new hybrid system and around 1,000 hp of system output, the new R18 puts more power on track than any of its predecessors. Aerodynamics, the monocoque and the suspension are new, as well as many systems in the race car such as central hydraulics. The ultimate objective is to achieve maximum efficiency combined with high performance – as required by the regulations. The R18 now processes 50 percent more hybrid energy than its predecessor, storing it in a battery for the first time. Sounds like there’s been a lot going on in the workshop over the off season over at Audi as they would appear to have left absolutely nothing to chance in the pursuit of 2016 glory.
Alongside last year’s winners, Fässler/Lotterer/Tréluyer, in car number “7,” Lucas di Grassi/Loïc Duval/Oliver Jarvis (BR/F/GB) are competing in car number “8” for Audi Sport Team Joest. For Oliver Jarvis, Silverstone is a home round – he lives in Burwell, 130 kilometres away from the race track.
Audi are proud of the fact that they have a special relationship with the United Kingdom and the UK automobile market, as within the space of a decade, the brand have more than doubled its deliveries here and in 2015 added another five percent. In 2015, Audi delivered 166,817 units in the UK, more than ever before. Impressive.
The first of nine FIA WEC rounds will start on Sunday, April 17, at 12:00 (13:00 CEST). Eurosport will start to air 130 minutes of live coverage of the race decision at 17:00 CEST. In addition, Audi will be offering accompanying reportage on Facebook (AudiSport), Twitter (@Audi__Sport) and the Audi Sport App.
So it’s a MotorMartin well done to the Audi WEC team and best of luck for the season opener at Silverstone. I’ll definitely be watching. Will you?
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