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The FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) will be heading to the Circuit of the Americas on September 20, 2013.
The German automaker claimed a 1-2-3-4 finish, with its R18 Ultra taking first and third, and the diesel hybrid e-tron quattro taking second and fourth. So at least for one race, diesel has triumphed over diesel hybrid, but Spa Francorchamps was still a very impressive debut for the new R18 e-tron quattro race car. In fact, the pair of hybrid race cars actually dominated the action initially before a strategic tire change gave the R18 Ultra an advantage.
The data gained from the successful outing of the R18 e-tron quattro models will play a pivotal role for Audi as it heads to the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Toyota originally planned on debuting it TS030 hybrid race car at the same event at Spa Francorchamps, but had to postpone it due to a major accident. Audi will not only have a victory under its belt heading to the 24 Hours of Le Mans, but a ton of data and experience with its race cars.
Aston Martin will return this year to the FIA World Endurance Championship to compete in the eight round series, kicking off with the 60th anniversary edition of the 12 Hours of Sebring, on March 17.
The company confirmed today that it will enter an updated version of the Vantage GT2, calling it the Vantage GTE. That car will be based off the Vantage road car, getting the same bonded aluminum structure with and aerospace specification steel roll cage. All but the roof will be made from carbon fiber to shed weight. A 4.5-litre V8 with an aluminum block and will keep the street-legal Vantage’s double-wishbone suspension, but with purpose-built components.
The driver line-up has also been confirmed: Darren Turner, Stefan Mücke and Adrian Fernandez will compose the team.
“I’m excited about this program as it’s our opportunity to take Aston Martin back to the top of the world of GT racing. The Vantage GTE is a great car; she’s coming along nicely now and we’re ready to take on what we expect will be tough competition,” Turner said.
“The FIA World Endurance Championship calendar looks good to me, especially as I’ve already won in an Aston Martin at half of the tracks: Sebring, Silverstone, Interlagos and of course at Le Mans. We are going to Sebring next month with a brand new car, but that’s exactly what we did with the DBR9 back in 2005 and we won that race. I’m not promising we can repeat that but we’ll certainly try.”
GALLERY: 2012 Aston Martin Vantage GTE
Originally Toyota racing had planned on entering selected races on the World Endurance Championship circuit, but citing unexpected changes faced by the championship has now announced they will be a full-time entrant. This means that the debut of the TS030 will be on May 5th at the Six Hours of Spa Francorchamps.
For the 24 hours of Le Mans race, the regular driver line-up of Alex Wurz, Nicolas Lapierre and Kazui Nakajima has been confirmed, but the second set of drivers has yet to be determined.
“The circumstances for the championship changed suddenly in recent weeks and Toyota Racing considers it important to work together with the FIA and ACO to establish a successful future for endurance racing. We have done everything we can to show our support and we look forward to an exciting season, including the opportunity to race two cars at Le Mans,” said Toyota racing team president Yoshiaki Kinoshita.
See video of the Toyota Hybrid race car below: