· ACO extends contracts with sports TV channel
· Mattias Ekström is proud father
· Success for the Audi R8 LMS in Italy and Spain
Ingolstadt, April 17, 2011 - Good news comes from France for Audi and sportscar fans: The Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) and Eurosport announced that the 24 Hours of Le Mans will continue to be broadcast live to 2013 by the pan-European sports channel. Meanwhile Mattias Ekström glows with happiness: The two-time DTM Champion became a father on Monday.
To be continued: On Tuesday the Le Mans organizer ACO and TV channel Eurosport announced an three year extension to their current contract. The 24 Hours of Le Mans will also be seen live on Eurosport in 2011, 2012 and 2013. Comprehensive pre-event reports complete the package. Furthermore, the races can be enjoyed in HD quality on Eurosport HD.
The remaining Intercontinental Le Mans Cup races are also covered by the contract: Eurosport has the live rights for all ILMC races.
Glowing parents: Mattias Ekström is a father since last Monday. Partner Heidi Sandtler gave birth to a healthy Mats, the pair’s first child. The son weighed 3,780 grams at birth and is 53 centimeters tall.
Star squad at the "Racers & Writers" dinner hosted by Audi UK: Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich arrived at Goodwood with his factory drivers Oliver Jarvis, Tom Kristensen and Allan McNish. Other attending stars: Former Audi drivers Johnny Herbert, Andy Wallace, James Weaver and Harald Demuth. Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason and former Le Mans winner Richard Attwood were popular guests, too.
Factory meeting with two top athletes: It was not only the Audi concern’s regular staff that met on Wednesday for a factory meeting. Two of the company’s fastest employees also hurried to Ingolstadt: The two DTM drivers Rahel Frey and Mike Rockenfeller were kept busy signing autographs.
The next appointment is already on the agenda for Rahel Frey: The Swiss girl will appear together with Mattias Ekström at the Munich Olympic Stadium on Monday. They visit the advance press conference for the DTM show event Munich Olympic Stadium.
Four Audi factory drivers were in action this weekend with the Audi R8 LMS for customers and importer teams: Marco Bonanomi and his 26-year old team mate Andrea Sonvico celebrated two wins in the Audi R8 LMS in the Italian GT3 Championship season opener at Vallelunga. Dindo Capello completed the Audi Sport Italia team’s double one-two by taking a brace of second places with Alessandro Cicognani.
The first race of the new Blancpain Endurance Series at Monza also finished with a podium result for the Audi R8 LMS. After three hours and 94 laps Felipe Albuquerque and his team mates Stéphane Ortelli and Bert Longin from the Belgian W Racing team finished second despite a tire failure. Marcel Fässler finished the race with Andrea Piccini and Greg Franchi in 18th position after two tire failures.
One-two in Spain: In the Spanish GT Championship season opener César Campaniço and João Figueiredo won the GTS category in both races in the team Novadriver Audi R8 LMS. In the first race they even managed to finish second overall.
A word from ... Ralf Jüttner
The 24 Hours of Le Mans test day returns. Next Sunday the R18 TDI rolls around the track for the first time. How do you assess this test day in your function as Technical Director of Audi Sport Team Joest?
The test day was dropped for two years due to economical reasons. I’m delighted that this event has returned to the calendar. It helps to save the teams some unpleasant surprises otherwise encountered during the race in June. The new test day has, however, another meaning: This event was held for years only two weeks before the actual race. In this period it wasn’t possible to change much. Now there is more time to react.
Next Sunday it is not all about lap time. What benefit do Audi and its team actually get from this day?
We’ll be able to get through a lot of valuable work there. The track is unique and the circuit cannot be used permanently. Every kilometer is worth its weight in gold. According to the regulations we only have to appear at the test with one car. However, we will test all three R18 TDI cars. We’ll complete a different program with each of the cars in order to learn as much as possible about the aerodynamics, tires, set-up and other subjects.
It’s impossible to prevent lap times being compared …
Correct. But it must never be forgotten that only the teams actually know what they are testing. It may well be the first comparison, but we’ll only see the real performance in June.
Coming up next week
24.04. Le Mans (F), test day
24.04. Zolder (B), Belcar Championship round 2
25.04. Oschersleben (D), ADAC GT Masters round 1
25.04. Nogaro (F), French GT Championship round 2
25.04. Oulton Park (GB), British GT Championship races 1 and 2