Audi R18 TDI to make its debut in the Spa 1,000 km race

Article by Christian Andrei, on May 1, 2011

Allan McNish of Scotland will drive the new Audi R18 TDI as he competes in the second round of the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup at Spa in Belgium on May 7, 2011, Saturday. This event will serve as the vehicle model’s important race début. The Scotsman will line up with regular co-drivers Dindo Capello of Italy and Tom Kristensen of Denmark in the diesel-engined R18 Coupé around the 4.35-mile Spa-Francorchamps track for the 1,000km race.

The Spa race will be the first and only competition for the R18 TDI before the Le Mans 24 Hours, which will be held on June 11 to 12, 2011. This means that the Audi Sport will have the approximately six-hour competition in the Ardennes region as a full, three-car “dress rehearsal” for the prominent French race.

McNish, who finished third in a related race in Belgium a year ago, stated that it is going to be essentially two races in one considering that he will be looking on the Spa race, claiming as many points as possible towards the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup, while visualizing the bigger picture, which is the Le Mans 24 Hours.

He also added that the Spa competition will help them learn more about the new Audi R18 TD although it has been tested at Le Mans recently. The 20-minute qualifying session on Friday afternoon will allow everyone to witness the true performance of all the new vehicles since it is going to be the first event where the cars are on the same playing field at the same time. McNish also narrated that he, Capello and Kristensen “were very close at Spa last year in the R15 TDI,” which they ran in a Le Mans track set-up.

Around 60 cars have been confirmed for the prestigious 1000km of Spa Francorchamps on May 7, including the debuting Audi R18 TDI driven by Allan McNish, Tom Kristensen and Dindo Capello. The seven-race Intercontinental Le Mans Cup will have its final event at the 6 Hours of Zhuzhai in China November 12, 2011. Incindetally, McNish and Kristensen finished second in the 2010 version of the six-hour race.

McNish remarked that they at Audi Sport have been looking forward to the 1000km of Spa Francorchamps this year because it will mark the race debut of the new Audi R18 TDI. He quipped that judging from the Le Mans test day, the competition is very fierce. On the other hand, Aston Martin Racing has decided not to participate in the 1000km of Spa Francorchamps to focus on the AMR-One testing and development program.

Aston Martin's AMR-One prototype – powered by a new turbo-charged direct injection 2.0 liter straight-six engine – suffered some issues during the Le Mans test, particularly with the engine plasma cylinder lining. However, it is notable that the AMR-One project is still in its early stages, with its three-year plan just commenced in September 2010.

David Richards, Aston Martin Racing Chairman, remarked while they could take part in the Spa 1000km race, this event will result to an agenda that would not allow them to achieve their goals. He noted that Aston Martin Racing has to complete its testing -- including engine, aero and long distance tests -- at its own pace.

Press Release

McNISH & AUDI TO GIVE RACE DEBUT OF R18 TDI IN SPA 1,000KM

Allan McNish gives the new Audi R18 TDI an important race début when the Scotsman competes in the second round of the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup at Spa in Belgium of Saturday (7 May).

McNish lines-up with regular co-drivers Tom Kristensen (Denmark) and Dindo Capello (Italy) in the new diesel-engined R18 Coupé for the 1,000km race around the stunning 4.35-mile Spa-Francorchamps track.

Spa takes on the added importance of it being the first and only race for the R18 TDI before the Le Mans 24 Hours (11-12 June) meaning Audi Sport will use the near six-hour race in the Ardennes region as a full, three-car "dress rehearsal" for the prestigious French race.

"It's essentially two races in one because I'll have one eye on the Spa race and claiming as many points towards the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup as possible while also looking at the bigger picture of the Le Mans 24 Hours," stated Allan who finished third in the corresponding Belgian race 12 months ago.

"Although we tested at Le Mans recently, we'll learn a lot more about the new Audi R18 TDI and also how it fares against the competition at Spa. The 20-minute qualifying session on Friday afternoon will be the first time when we'll see the true performance of all of the new cars because it will be the first time when everybody is on the same playing field together at the same time.

"Dindo, Tom and myself were very close at Spa last year in the R15 TDI which we ran in a Le Mans track set-up. We have a good chance going into the event but it will be a testing one and I am looking forward to seeing how things shake out."

McNish, Kristensen and Capello recovered superbly to claim fourth place at the chequered flag in the opening ILMC race at Sebring, the trio having led the field several times before one of the "factory" Peugeot sportscars miscalculated an overtaking manoeuvre and hit their Audi R15 TDI with Capello at the wheel.

"Spa gives us a chance to bounce back in the ILMC from the disappointment of not taking top honours at Sebring in March," continued McNish. "We managed to salvage fourth position and get some points on the board and hopefully Spa will give us another opportunity of a good points haul."

A magnificent field of 60-cars is entered for the Spa race. Meanwhile ILMC organisers have announced that a six-hour race at Zhuhai in China will close the seven-race series on 12 November – McNish and Kristensen having claimed second place in the corresponding race last year.

"Spa is a circuit that every driver looks forward to and this year more than most for us at Audi Sport because of the R18 TDI's race debut," continued McNish. "We were up against our competition at the Le Mans test day and we know it's very fierce. As a driver when you finish a lap around Spa, you know you have worked very hard for it."

Aston Martin Racing to sit out Spa to continue AMR-One Development

Gaydon, 28 April 2011. Aston Martin Racing has made the decision not to contest the 1000km of Spa Francorchamps on 7th May, but instead to focus on the ongoing AMR-One testing and development programme.

The ground up developed AMR-One, Aston Martin's new LMP1 prototype racer which features a new turbo-charged direct injection 2.0 litre straight six petrol engine experienced difficulties at the Le Mans test with the engine plasma cylinder lining. The ambitious project which is still in its early stages of a three year plan began in September last year.

David Richards, Aston Martin Racing Chairman said: "We could go to the Spa 1000km race in May, but this race meeting will set an agenda for us that doesn't allow us to achieve what we need to accomplish. We need to complete our testing at our own pace including engine, aero and long distance tests."

Topics: audi, audi r18, race car

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