Audi have been dominant in the World Endurance Championship this year, hogging the lime light and dismissing the ever increasing threat made by the Toyota team. The final race of the year, held in Bahrain tomorrow – 30 November, will be one of the toughest as temperatures have the potential to soar to over 40 degrees Celcius – and that’s even after the sun has gone down. Next year heralds the influx of all new regulations meaning every car on track will be hybrid.
With five qualifying best times, six victories, and an early title win in the manufacturers’ World Championship plus the early title captured by Loïc Duval/Tom Kristensen/Allan McNish (F/DK/GB) in the drivers’ classification – Audi has cleaned up well before the WEC finale and successfully defended their 2012 titles.
As a result, the brand can tackle the finale without pressure. In Bahrain, an era in endurance racing will come to an end, as the event will mark the last time for a round to be held under the regulations that have been in effect until now. Next year’s regulations, focused on the aim of saving energy, will change the sport so fundamentally that virtually not a single bolt to be used in Audi’s future LMP sports car will be the same as in the current race car.
The Audi R18 e-tron quattro and its predecessors have shaped this era. Since 2011, the various evolutions of the R18 have contested a total of 22 endurance races and won 13 of them. In the Le Mans 24 Hours, the race cars from Ingolstadt and Neckarsulm remained unbeaten in all three years. Technologically, Audi was at the top as well – be it with the downsized 3.7 litre TDI engine and its innovative twin-flow turbocharger, ultra-lightweight design featuring the first CFRP transmission housing of a sports car that demonstrates the brand’s lightweight construction expertise, the e-tron quattro hybrid concept or production-based detailed solutions such as the Matrix LED headlights and the digital rearview mirror with an AMOLED display.
Now, after six WEC race wins and the success at the Sebring 12 Hours, Audi is aiming for the eighth sports car triumph of the year. The 5.412-kilometre track in the desert of Bahrain is unique in many respects. For example, it is possible that the hottest temperatures of the year will be encountered there. When Marcel Fässler/André Lotterer/Benoît Tréluyer (CH/D/F) at last year’s WEC debut race at Bahrain celebrated victory, extreme demands were made on ‘man and machine’ with outside temperatures of nearly 40 degrees centigrade. This year, the race is held two months later. The thermometer at this time of the year shows about 10 degrees less and even though the checkered flag will be waved at 21:00, which is about four hours after sunset, air temperatures will have hardly dropped by that time.
The operating temperatures of numerous technical components are correspondingly high and the time for which the tyres will last across the distance has a crucial effect on the strategy. Additionally, the sand blown onto the track from the desert significantly changes grip on the tarmac – all of these factors making for plenty of ingredients to promise a thrilling race in an important region.
For Audi, the Middle East is a growth region. Between January and October, the brand increased its deliveries in the area of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) by 11 percent and on the single market of Bahrain even by 24 percent.
Fans can again look forward to watching the race on the internet. Audi offers live streaming on www.audi-motorsport.com. Additional background information is available on the Audi Sport App as well as on Twitter and Facebook.