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Audi unveils new Le Mans challenger


Audi will debuts its second-generation diesel sports racing car, the R15 TDi, at Sebring on March 21

It will use the Florida, USA, 12-hour race as a curtain-raiser for the R15’s assault on the 24 Hours of Le Mans in France in June. Audi is the only outfit to win the French classic with a diesel, though it will face strong opposition from diesel Peugeots.

“Lightweight construction, environmentally-friendly drive concepts and well thought-out aerodynamics are the focus of attention at Le Mans,” says Audi motorsport boss,  Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. “For this purpose the regulations intentionally give the engineers plenty of freedom.”

Ullrich says the German carmaker’s motorsport arm, Audi Sport, exploited fully that creative freedom and is fielding a new LMP1 race car that differs significantly from all previous Le Mans sports cars.

"The R15 TDI has many detailed technical solutions never seen before on a sports prototype. To a certain extent we followed entirely new routes."

The car’s newly-developed V10 TDI diesel produces more than 600bhp and peak torque of more than 1050Nm. The engine is more compact and lighter than the 12-cylinder used in the Le Mans winning R10 TDi, uses less fuel and produces fewer CO2 emissions.

Ullrich says innovations in the turbocharging and fuel injection ensure improved engine response. Airflow around and through the car was optimised using CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics). The rear wing is suspended from the top and the car has a high nose.

The electrical system is entirely new: A lithium-ion battery, as found in some hybrid vehicles, is used for the first time. It’s lighter than the conventional battery and supplies a higher voltage.

For the first time an Audi sports racer will have a low beam unit comprised entirely of light emitting diodes.
A longer wheelbase and optimised vehicle weight make the R15 TDi significantly more agile than its predecessor.


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