Audi will join Le Mans rival Peugeot in contesting the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta next month, fielding two of its R15 TDis.
The German manufacturer will take on Peugeot for the first time since being beaten in the Le Mans 24 Hours in June, with Allan McNish and Rinaldo Capello, and Lucas Luhr and Marco Werner sharing the two cars.
Audi's motorsport boss Dr Wolfgang Ullrich says the marque is using the event to begin its program for Le Mans in 2010.
"The race at Road Atlanta marks the first part of our preparation for the 24 Hours of Le Mans 2010," Ullrich said. "We want to use it as an opportunity for our engineers to learn even more about the new Audi R15 TDI in direct competition with strong rivals. A lot of things can be simulated on test rigs and in track tests. But nothing can replace the experience gathered in actual racing events."
As well as Audi and Peugeot, the ALMS's leading Acura teams and Le Mans Series regular ORECA are also entered for the 1000-mile race at Road Atlanta on September 26. Ullrich believes Petit Le Mans will give Audi an opportunity to show the true potential of the R15.
"We're convinced that we weren't able to fully exploit the potential of the R15 TDI at Le Mans," he said. "At Road Atlanta we'll have the opportunity to test on the Sunday before the race, so we should be in a better position than we were at Le Mans.
"Despite the strong competition by Acura, Peugeot, Mazda, ORECA and the other prototype teams, we figure on having good chances of fighting for victory, as we did over the past few years."
Audi currently stands unbeaten in the Petit Le Mans, with the R8 winning the event six times and the R10 the last three.