By ACO Media
Audi organised a spectacular, crowd-pleasing event on Tuesday 25th March. The 2014 version of the Audi R18 driven by Tom Kristensen, record holder of victories in the Le Mans 24 Hours, drove the car from the town centre to the circuit.
Audi, which will be back to defend its title in the 2014 Le Mans 24 Hours (14-15 June) kicked off its sporting season in an innovative manner. The new Audi LM P1 R18 e-tron quattro had its first shakedown in public in the streets of Le Mans! Tom Kristensen was at the wheel of the new Audi escorted by the Police Nationale. Despite his nine victories in the Le Mans classic, he felt very moved about baptising the car that will carry all the hopes of the German team this season in such an original manner.
After an autograph session attended by all six Audi drivers who will race in the whole 2014 FIA World Endurance Championship, the Dane drove the car from the Place des Jacobins, packed with spectators at the foot of the Saint Julian cathedral, to the Le Mans 24-Hours circuit accompanied by a television crew, who showed this journey live, and a host of photographers. After a lap of the Bugatti circuit, Kristensen stopped his car at the foot of the Welcome and then joined the Audi guests for a press conference of presentation. This operation was made possible with the help of different services of the town of Le Mans, the Sarthe Department and the ACO.
“I’ve been racing at Le Mans since 1997 and it’s the first time I’ve made such a trip. It was very exciting,” he said as he got out of the car.
In addition to the livery of the Audi in which it will race in 2014, its designers talked about the avant-garde technology in this car that complies with the new technical regulations introduced by the ACO. The cubic capacity of the V6 TDI engine has been increased from 3.7 to 4 litres and the manufacturer will use a single energy recovery system, not two.
At the end of the ceremony the new R18 e-tron quattro took to the road – this time in its transporter – and set off for the Le Castellet circuit to run in the two-day test session on Friday and Saturday 28th and 29th March in the Var: a prelude to the first round of the World Endurance Championship on 20th April at Silverstone in Great Britain.
Toyota will also present its new car on Thursday morning at Le Castellet. After Porsche on 4th March at the Geneva Motor Show, then Audi this morning in Le Mans, Toyota is the last of the manufacturers officially entered in LM P1-H this year to unveil its 2014 challenger.
Pierre Fillon, President of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest: “We think it’s great that Audi selected Le Mans as the venue for the presentation of the new R18 e-tron quattro – not only for the media but also for the spectators who will be the first to see the new Le Mans sports car on the Place des Jacobins and on its drive to the race track. At the same time, Audi is bringing back memories of an all-but forgotten tradition of our race from the days when the drivers would travel to Le Mans in their own race cars.”