Every year for the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps and the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Audi enter an extra car to help increase their chances. This gives three drivers the chance to compete in the team’s race winning factory LMP1 car. The seats in the third car have been used by Loic Duval, Lucas di Grassi and most recently, Oliver Jarvis, as a spring board into a regular LMP1 seat for the team.
This year Filipe Albuquerque, Marco Bonanomi and René Rast form the Audi’s third line up. Although The trio will start together for the first time in next weekends 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, they are no strangers to each other. Albuquerque and Bonanomi shared the third Audi R18 last year at Spa and Le Mans as well as sharing multiple successes in the Audi Sport Italia GT Team. In 2010 they were runners up in the series and a year later, Bonanomi won the championship, with assistance in some races by Albuquerque. René Rast however has races with Audi across various GT championships since 2009. His GT exploits has seen the German as a team mate to Albuquerque and Bonanomi on occasion.
Although Bonanomi’s first season in LMP1 was saw him as a test driver in 2011, he went on to make his Le Mans debut with a third place finish in 2012. Albuquerque meanwhile switched from DTM to LMP1 in 2014, and made his Le Mans debut in the same year. René Rast is the latest addition to the LMP1 team. Last year the German made his Le Mans debut for Sebastian Loeb Racing in the LMP2 class, finishing 4th in class. He also won the 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps and 24 Hours of the Nürburgring last year for Audi, as well as winning the GT Masters Championship. In an interview with Audi, he welcomed the challenge of being promoted to Audi’s prototype team. He went on to say that Audi has given him the opportunity that most racing drivers dream of and that Filipe and Marco form a really strong duo.
Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich added to that buy saying that the drivers in the #9 car are a balanced combination and should go well at Le Mans.
The trio’s first LMP1 race together will get underway this Saturday May 2nd at round two of the FIA World Endurance Championship in the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps.
Source: Audi Press Release