Audi has added the Le Mans Series season opener at Paul Ricard on April 11 to its 2010 LMP1 program. The team had already committed to the Spa round of the LMS as preparation for the Le Mans 24 Hours, and will also race in the season-closing 1000km race at Silverstone, as this race counts for the new Le Mans Intercontinental Cup. But it has now decided that its Le Mans buildup would benefit from giving its "R15 plus" – as the revised R15 TDI is designated within the team – an early race debut in France.
"We're on schedule with the additional developments we're making on the R15 TDI and so this race should be possible," said Audi motorsport boss Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. "Le Castellet [Ricard] is a racetrack that lends itself pretty well to testing for Le Mans, and we've frequently used this circuit for our Le Mans preparation. The eight-hour race distance makes the race of further interest to us."
Although Audi's decision means it is now entering three of the five LMS rounds, Ullrich emphasised that it has no intention of making a full-scale return to the series, despite registering with the organizers.
"This should not at all be interpreted to mean that we will be contesting all five LMS races," he said. "At the moment, we are only planning to race at Le Castellet, Spa-Francorchamps and Silverstone."