Risi, Dempsey back for full season; Audi debuting R18 hybrid in U.S.
The first race of the 2013 American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón will mark the return of two legendary teams to racing in America and a Hollywood star’s debut at one of sports car racing’s toughest tests. Risi Competizione is back to full-time competition in the ALMS’ GT class, Audi will race its R18 e-quattro hybrid prototype for the first time in North America, and Patrick Dempsey and Dempsey Racing embark in a new full-season partnership.
All three squads will open their 2013 racing campaigns at the 61st Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh from Florida. The Florida endurance classic is set for Saturday, March 16 from Sebring International Raceway. Risi and Audi boast a combined 14 class wins in America’s oldest sports car race.
Risi Competizione, based in Houston, will enter one Ferrari 458 Italia GT in its return to ALMS racing. With a new era of sports car racing on the horizon with the merger of ALMS and GRAND-AM in 2014, team owner Giuseppe Risi is convinced it’s the right time to bring back his team to ALMS where it won the back-to-back GT titles in 2006-07 and Sebring three times – 2007, 2008 and 2010.
“We are embarking on a two-year program as we return to racing,” Risi said. “This year, we will race in ALMS alone, where we have enjoyed great success. In 2014, we will race in the merged series under the new class structure. We are excited about the prospects and the program, and are actively ramping up the team for 2013.”
Audi will go for its 11th overall Sebring victory with two factory R18 hybrid P1 cars – one in 2012-spec and the other in 2013 trim. Marcel Fässler, Oliver Jarvis and Benoît Tréluyer will drive one Audi, and Lucas di Grassi, Tom Kristensen and Allan McNish the other. With six victories under his belt, Kristensen holds the record at this event.
That’s not all. Numerous Audi prototypes that raced at Sebring will be on display for fans through the weekend although with a number of former Audi factory drivers.
“We’re in for a very emotional race weekend on which we’ll be taking the fans along on a journey into our past,” says Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. “Sebring is where Audi’s sports car era that has been so successful began. We expect that with two current hybrid models we’ll be battling for overall victory. At the same time, on the fringes of the race, the fans can look forward to seeing four other race cars and several race drivers who made history at Sebring with Audi.”
Hollywood star Patrick Dempsey announced a new partnership with Italian soccer star Alessandro Del Piero for a program that will see Dempsey/Del Piero Racing enter the Le Mans 24 Hours and two cars in the ALMS.
Dempsey/Del Piero Racing expects to announce further details on its plans for Le Mans and ALMS, and unveil the car livery, sponsorship and driver line-ups, in the coming weeks.
“We are excited to join forces with Alessandro and compete at the highest levels of racing,” Dempsey said. “Alessandro’s passion for winning and leadership skills will be invaluable, and he will play an important role in the development and direction of the team.”
The new team, based in the United States, lists Dempsey, Joe Foster and Michael Avenatti as drivers on its 2013 24 Hours of Le Mans entry. Avenatti and Foster also are team principals. Filippo Marchino will serve as a consultant to the team.
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