Audi reveals R15 Plus Le Mans race sports car

Article by Christian Andrei, on August 25, 2010

Audi will try to take home the bacon from the Le Mans 24 Hours by fielding its revised R15 TDI diesel race sports car on the track on June 12 and 13. In fact, Audi has also commenced an extensive testing program for the revised LMP1 vehicle in the United States.

According to Wolfgang Ullrich, Head of Audi Motorsport, the carmaker considers the LMP1 as a better alternative to Formula 1 since this category features technologies and developments that are usually relevant to production vehicles.

He noted that since efficiency is very important at Le Mans, Audi is infusing such attribute to its production vehicles. This is the main reason why Audi has made efficiency as a focal point in the R15 TDI evolution project, especially in terms of aerodynamics.

Martin Mühlmeier, Head of Technology at Audi Sport, disclosed that for this year, the Le Mans regulations prescribe air restrictors with a smaller diameter as well as reduced supercharging pressure for diesel vehicles.

Mühlmeier remarked that because of the lower engine power, Audi Sport tried to make the R15 TDI’s aerodynamics more efficient as well as to improve its Cd value and downforce parameters.

Since the Le Mans organizers only announced the late revisions in regulations in November, Audi’s engineers had to work harder and were forced to completely revise the R15 TDI’s front section, resulting to a new, distinctive face featuring a split nose. For optimum efficiency, Audi revised the race car’s entire body shape.

Even its cooling and fuel tank system received modifications. Additionally, the carmaker optimized the V10 TDI engine for the smaller air restrictors and reduced its supercharging pressure, in compliance with the new Le Mans regulations.

According to Ulrich Baretzky, Head of Engine Technology at Audi Sport, they aimed to keep the power loss to a minimum while adhering to limitations imposed by the regulations. Baretzky said they were able to achieve that objective through a lot of detailed work, and as a result the race car’s 5.5-liter engine still develops over 440 kW.

Mühlmeier added that following Le Mans 2009, Audi’s specs for the R15 plus included around 20 key items, topped by efficiency and reliability. Other items on the list included improved nighttime lighting of the track, which was achieved by installing a new headlight concept.

The revised R15 TDI diesel race sports car was rolled out on the Audi test track in Neustadt on March 3 and was then flown to the US for two weeks of extensive testing.

It will then undergo an extensive testing program with Audi Sport Team Joest, competing on a number of race tracks and test races in Europe like the 8 Hours of Le Castellet in France on April 11, and the 1000-km race at Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium on May 9.

Interestingly, watchmaker TAG Heuer is now part of the Audi R15 TDI project, with its logo to be featured on the race car.

Press Release

Progressive design for the Audi R15 TDI

Audi will fight for victory in the Le Mans 24 Hours on June 12/13 with an evolution of the R15 TDI diesel race sports car. An extensive testing program with the revised LMP1 vehicle has just begun in the United States.

"From Audi's perspective, the LMP1 is the better alternative to Formula 1 because this motorsport category features technologies and developments which are relevant to production vehicles," explains Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. "At Le Mans, efficiency is of paramount importance – and today, more than ever before, it is a key deliverable of production vehicles as well and it is one of Audi's special strengths."

Therefore, efficiency was a focal point during the R15 TDI evolution project – particularly in the complex area of aerodynamics. "This year, the Le Mans regulations prescribe air restrictors with a smaller diameter and reduced supercharging pressure for diesel-powered vehicles," says Dr. Martin Mühlmeier, Head of Technology at Audi Sport. "Due to the reduction of engine power as a result of the regulations we have tried to make the car's aerodynamics even more efficient than before and to improve the Cd value and downforce parameters."

A late change in regulations that was announced only in November made the work of the engineers more difficult and forced Audi to completely modify the front section of the R15 TDI. Consequently, the diesel race sports car that is internally designated as "R15 plus" now has a new, distinctive face featuring a split nose.

The entire shape of the R15 TDI's body has been revised for maximum efficiency. The same is true for the modified cooling and fuel tank system. The V10 TDI engine has been optimized for the smaller air restrictors and reduced supercharging pressure. "Our objective was to keep power loss to a minimum despite the limitations imposed by the regulations," explains Ulrich Baretzky, Head of Engine Technology at Audi Sport. "We managed to do that through a lot of detailed work." The 5.5-liter power plant continues to deliver more than 440 kW.

"After Le Mans 2009, our specifications for the R15 plus listed about 20 key items," says Dr. Martin Mühlmeier. "Efficiency and reliability were at the top of the list but we also looked at details like improved nighttime lighting of the track. We were able to meet this wish of the drivers with a new headlight concept."

The evolution version of the Audi R15 TDI completed its roll out on the Audi test track at Neustadt (Germany) on March 3. The vehicle was subsequently flown to the United States for two weeks of in-depth testing. Before the race at Le Mans in June, Audi Sport Team Joest will complete an extensive testing program on various European race tracks and test races at the 8 Hours of Le Castellet (France) on April 11 and at the 1000-kilometer race at Spa-Francorchamps (Belgium) on May 9.

A new partner has now joined the project: the logo of the renowned watchmaker TAG Heuer will be featured on the Audi R15 TDI. Some of the brand's fame stems from U.S. actor Steve McQueen wearing a TAG Heuer watch in the movie "Le Mans."

Topics: audi, audi r15, race car

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