The ACO has announced its participant lists for the 2011 24 Hours of Le Mans and the 2011 Intercontinental Le Mans Cup this morning, lists that included a few things we'd expected and confirming the fate of the privateer Kolles Audi squad... at least for 2011.
To race at Le Mans and in the ILMC you need to be invited. In as much, Audi Sport received three invitations for the 24 Hours of Le Mans and two for the ILMC. Here's the rundown.
2011 24 Hours of Le Mans
Audi R18 TDI #1, Audi Sport Team Joest, driven by Bernhard, Dumas and Rockenfeller
Audi R18 TDI #2, Audi Sport Team Joest, driven by Fassler, Lotterer and Treluyer
Audi R18 TDI #3, Audi Sport North America, by Capello, Kristensen and McNish
Also in the P1 field will be three factory Peugeot 908s and a fourth Peugeot fielded by Oreca, two factory Aston Martin AMR-Ones, Highcroft's Acura/HPD ARX-01e. There's also a field of non-factory efforts including two Toyota-poered Lolas being run by Rebellion Racing.
2011 Intercontinental Le Mans Cup
Audi R18 TDI #1, Audi Sport Team Joest, driven by Bernhard and Fassler
Audi R18 TDI #2, Audi Sport Team Joest, driven by Kristensen and McNish
Also in the P1 field will be two factory Peugeots, the privateer Oreca-run Peugeot, a lone Aston Martin AMR-One and four more non-factory efforts.
Kolles Will Not Return, Removing Any Audi Privateers from the Grid
For the last two years Team Kolles fielded last-generation Audi R10 TDIs as a privateer effort. Kolles already had strong factory ties thanks to its Audi DTM team management and that likely explains how the team was the only to ever field the Audi R10 TDI outside of the Audi factory themselves. Unlike the R8 that went to efforts as diverse as Team Oreca and Team Goh albeit often with Audi market support (Audi France and Audi Japan in those cases), the Kolles effort was not associated with an Audi sales market though it did make use of Audi drivers (Oliver Jarvis in 2010, Andre Lotterer in 2009).
In 2010, one of the Kolles cars was run by several drivers from the ALMS LMP Challenge team of Level 5 Motorsports. According to the 2011 roster, those drivers and the rest of the Level 5 team will field an HPD-powered Lola P2 both at Le Mans and in the ILMC.
Running the elder Audi R10 TDI, Kolles never really had a chance for an all-out win against the Audi and Peugeot factories but they were strong runners and another spectacle to watch for Audi enthusiasts at Le Mans. We'd hoped perhaps Audi might move their 2011 spec R15 plus cars to Kolles but the entry lists confirm that won't happen.
Speaking of Audi interest at Le Mans, the other cars that won't make the grid are the Audi-powered Spykers. A small company fielding their own chassis and a non-factory developed engine, Spyker still offered a strong showing against factory efforts from Porsche, Ferrari and BMW in GT2. Spyker just swallowed Saab this year so perhaps its resources are being spent elsewhere.
As part of our Le Mans coverage, we usually cover any Lamborghini showing in the 24 Hours as well. Usually this means the JLOC Lamborghini Murcielagos but the Murcielago is going out of production, the GT1 category is gone and frankly JLOC has a hard time making it through hour 1 much less hour 24. A much stronger showing by the Interprogressbank Spartak Lamborghini Murcielago campaigned by Reiter Engineering managed a race finish several years ago but the privateer Murcielagos in GT1 never really had a chance against factory efforts from Chevrolet and Aston Martin. As GT1 has gone away, so has the Murcielago. A privateer Gallardo will run in the ALMS this year but no Lamborghinis are on either of the ACO lists.