Vehicle manufacturer Audi has announced a double debut for its 2012 World Endurance Championship (WEC) hopes, with the launch of the new Audi R18 e-tron quattro and Audi R18 ultra.
The first race of the WEC campaign will take place at Spa-Francorchamps on May 5th and will allow the team to unveil their newest performance car offerings.
Both the e-tron Quattro and R18 ultra models will battle it out with their competitors to take the chequered flag at an event which is traditionally seen as an excellent warm up for the Le Mans 24 Hours Race.
Dr Wolfgang Ullrich, head of Audi Motorsport, commented: "Like last year, Spa will be a dress rehearsal for us for the Le Mans 24 Hours.
"We'd been planning to compete there with exactly the same teams as at Le Mans, in other words with all four vehicles and the squads assigned to them. Unfortunately, we won't be able to completely follow our plan with respect to the drivers."
Each of the new models is innovative in its own right, but the e-tron Quattro stands out from the field, as it is the first diesel hybrid sports car with all-wheel drive.
A number of drivers will be taking to the track behind the wheels of these two additions to Audi's sporting range, including Marcel Fassler, Andre Lotterer, Benoit Treluyer, Dindo Capello, Tom Kristensen and Allan McNish.
Ralf Juttner, technical director at Audi Sport Team Joest, stated his belief that the team is really looking forward to the upcoming race and will be hoping to achieve a good result, no matter what the conditions come race day.
However, he added that the event will be a huge challenge for the team, as it looks to build a solid foundation on which to do well at Le Mans.
Mr Juttner noted it is a shame Toyota will not be running in Spa-Francorchamps as they are likely to be one of the team's major rivals over the rest of the season, but he added there will be plenty of other top cars to keep them busy.
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Posted by Mark Thompson