Audi is hoping to continue its series of wins at the Le Mans 24 Hours but for the next time, it will be relying on a totally new LMP1 sports car development. Since the brand debuted in 1999, it had been victorious a total of nine times in the world's most important endurance race with its R8, R10 TDI and R15 TDI models.
The only other company that can boast the same is Ferrari. Audi aims to win for the tenth time in Le Mans 2011 with this new R18 that was introduced at the Audi Sportpark in Ingolstadt last Dec. 10. This marks the first time since 1999 that Audi will enter a closed coupe.
Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich said that he expects aerodynamic efficiency will be even more important at Le Mans in the future. He explained that a closed car has an advantage in this aspect and its computer simulations have confirmed this in the wind tunnel and during initial track tests.
At the Le Mans 2011, the rule makers have prescribed the use of significantly smaller engines in order to achieve a substantial reduction of engine power. By choosing a 3.7-liter V6 TDI unit, Audi retains the diesel concept that had its first victorious fielding in 2006.
Ulrich Baretzky, Head of Engine Development at Audi Sport, said that the TDI still offers the “most efficient technology." He said that there are “good reasons” for the big share of TDI units among Audi's production models.
The company believes that by using the V6 TDI engine for Le Mans, motorsport has again performed ground-breaking work for the production arm at Audi where there is a growing trend for smaller, more economical engines that are more powerful. In addition, Audi is also developing the six-speed transmission in the R18 that has been modified specifically to be used with the smaller engine.