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di Grassi makes sportscar switch
21 December 2012
F1 refugee Lucas di Grassi will compete in next year's FIA World Endurance Championship, having inked a deal with the crack factory Audi squad.
The Brazilian raced with the marque at Interlagos towards the end of the 2012 campaign and impressed enough in finishing third alongside Audi stalwarts Allan McNish and Tom Kristensen to be offered a full-time ride for 2013.
di Grassi only got one year in F1, racing with Virgin in its debut campaign back in 2010 but being replaced with Jerome d'Ambrosio the season after. Unable to land an alternative, he took up the reins as one of Pirelli's development drivers, working alongside Jaime Alguersuari in 2012, as well as fronting the new Formula E initiative, but jumped at the chance to drive one of the world's leading sports prototypes.
Audi will be defending its WEC title in 2013, with Audi Sport Team Joest fielding two updated Audi R18 e-tron quattros for much of the year, and adding a third at both the Le Mans 24 Hours and the WEC race at Spa-Francorchamps.
As a result, Audi will be banking exclusively on hybrid technology in 2013, having successfully introduced the concept this year, although the flywheel energy storage system is becoming even more powerful without any substantial increase in weight and size. In terms of its exterior, the Audi R18 e-tron quattro will hardly differ from this year's race-winning car, although numerous technical innovations are again assembled under the vehicle's ultra-light carbon fibre skin. Audi Sport, meanwhile, is already working on the R18's successor for the new LMP1 regulations that will come into effect in 2014.
The full line-up for the WEC and Le Mans in 2013 consists of the current world champions Marcel Fässler, André Lotterer and Benoît Tréluyer, with Loïc Duval, Marc Gené, Oliver Jarvis, Kristensen and McNish also joining di Grassi in the squad.
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