French team Sébastien Loeb Racing will race with Audi in 2014, ditching the McLaren MP4-12Cs it ran in ’13 after just one season.
The team, co-founded by multiple WRC champion Loeb and team manager Dominique Heintz, have not confirmed where the car will race, saying in a statement that the program ‘could include several different series’. They have confirmed a return to the French Porsche Carrera Cup, and also hinted at a return to LMP2.
There were tensions between the team and McLaren toward the end of the 2013 season as the team were disqualified from a series of events in the MP4-12C. The team released a statement, which was heavily critical of the manufacturer.
“We have been patient but the situation is no longer tolerable. Today, I’m clearly very disappointed, and even furious,” said Heintz in the release. “The entire team shares my sentiments. These disqualifications are not attributable to our technical team or something our mechanics have done. It’s McLaren’s fault and their engineers have stated it. This has cost us relatively important results, including a podium finish this past Sunday. Not being at fault for these issues, we still suffer the consequences, and we are annoyed to suffer.
“The McLaren MP4-12C is a car that we like in terms of pure performance, but these types of issues shouldn’t keep happening and that’s why we will contact McLaren management as soon as Monday. We’ve already alerted them to the situation and today it’s time they take action. Solutions must be found.”
The solution has been a total rethink and a new brand. In today’s announcement, Heintz had this to say;
“The choice to enter the Audi R8 LMS ultra is the result of a long thought process. Our discussions with Audi were very positive and we were convinced by the Audi R8 LMS ultra’s qualities. The car has good performance but also great reliability, as shown by its successes in some of the biggest endurance races such as the 24 Hours of Spa and Nürburgring.
“We were also attracted to the philosophy behind the car, which can suit both a professional and gentleman driver. In addition, Audi Sport runs a renowned customer racing program in all series in which it takes part, not forgetting that they are based closest to our own workshops. That’s a detail that could prove to facilitate our team’s work. We look forward now to the start of this new exciting challenge alongside Audi Sport.”
No details of sponsorship or livery have been revealed for the car.