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Gentlemen, start your engines. Audi sets driver lineup for 2014 World Endurance Championship

With Audi, Porsche, and Toyota locked in a technological arms race, the 2014 World Endurance Championship (WEC) – which includes the 24 Hours of Le Mans – promises to be one of the most exciting series of races in years.

Those high-tech cars need drivers, though, and Audi has announced its 2014 lineup.

Defending champions Loïc Duval and Tom Kristensen will continue to share an R18 e-tron quattro, along with former Formula One driver Lucas di Grassi, who has been promoted to a full-time Audi endurance driver to replace Allan McNish, who retired at the end of the 2013 season.

In addition to the 2013 WEC title, the team of Duval, Kristensen, and McNish won last year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Audi’s second car will be driven by Marcel Fässler, André Lotterer, and Benoît Tréluyer, who have been competing together since 2012. They won Le Mans and the WEC driver’s title that year, and were runners-up in the championship this year.

For Le Mans and the 6 Hours of Spa, Audi plans to field a third car. It will be driven by Filipe Albuquerque, Marco Bonanomi, and Oliver Jarvis. Albuquerque is a former DTM driver, Bonanomi is former Audi reserve driver, while Jarvis has won the 12 Hours of Sebring and placed third at Le Mans.

Each team of drivers will pilot an updated version of the all-conquering Audi R18 e-tron quattro, which won Le Mans in 2012 and 2013. This diesel-electric hybrid  uses internal combustion to drive its rear wheels, and an electric motor to drive its front wheels.

Audi will need talented drivers, because the 2014 WEC promises to be quite competitive.

In the top LMP1 class, Audi will compete against the all-wheel drive Toyota TS040 Hybrid, as well as the new 919 Spyder hybrid from Porsche, which is returning to top-tier endurance racing after 16 years.