This is Audi’s new R15 TDI Le Mans racer, with an all-new V10 diesel engine and lithium-ion battery technology.
Talk me round this new Audi R15 TDI please.
The R15 is Audi’s second diesel endurance sports racer, after the R10 TDI that first raced in 2006. It’s designed to fight Peugeot’s oil-burning 908 and Aston Martin’s petrol-powered LMP1. The Peugeot team ran Audi particularly close in 2008, and it’s a reason why the R10 only lasted for three years, while its predecessor the R8 competed for six seasons.
The old R10 had a 5.5-litre V12 diesel, but the R15 has a new 5.5-litre V10 TDI, producing in excess of 600bhp and over 775lb ft. The V10 is lighter than the V12, and boasts new turbo technology and a revised fuel-injection system to improve the engine’s responsiveness. But Audi also promises the V10 is more fuel efficient, and produces fewer CO2 emissions.
Other changes include the huge rear wing suspended from the top and the high nose, rather than the lower nose seen on the R8 and R10. And the nose features LED technology for the low beam headlight unit, which Ingolstadt claims ‘represents the next generation of Audi LED technology for road cars’.
What about this lithium-ion battery – is it a hybrid?
No, unlike Peugeot’s experimental 908 HY. Instead, the R15 uses a lithium-ion battery to replace a conventional battery, because it’s lighter and supplies a higher voltage.
Two R15s will debut at the 12-hours of Sebring on 21 March, the opening round of the American Le Mans Series (ALMS). But Audi won't compete in most of the 2009 ALMS season - instead it's concentrating on winning Le Mans with the R15, and campaigning successfully with its A4 DTM car and the new R8 GT3.
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