At the end of a successful motorsport season on November 13, highlighted by the 10th victory at the Le Mans 24 Hours and the title win in the DTM, Audi will be competing at the six-hour race at Zhuhai, China. During the first week of last month, the company with the four rings was at par with the Chinese sales record from the entire year of 2010.
China has been the biggest sales market for AUDI AG. In 2011, the company anticipates sales of at least 300,000 units in the country for the first time. For Audi, the close of the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup (ILMC) is a fitting occasion to commemorate the Chinese record.
The company's success in the country is also founded in motorsport. In 1985 and 1986, the renowned Audi quattro won the Hong Kong-Beijing Rally two consecutive times. The company competed with the A4 DTM at Shanghai twice. Moreover, on the launch of the sports prototypes at Zhuhai in 2010, viewers were pleased with the Audi R15 TDI.
Now, the Chinese fans can look forward to the Audi R18 TDI, the automobile that is undoubtedly the most fascinating race vehicle in the world in terms of technology, as it embodies Audi's ultra-lightweight design technology. It also demonstrates downsizing at the highest level. The engine's cubic capacity was reduced from 5.5 to 3.7 liters.
However, the R18 TDI is hardly slower than its predecessor. It had impressively proved that it can win the Le Mans 24 Hours even with an ultra-compact diesel engine. In 2006, the company was the first automaker to win the Le Mans 24 Hours with a diesel-powered automobile. Since June 2010, the company has been the first brand to enter its name on the winners' list of the most important endurance race in the world with a V6 TDI engine. Moreover, the preparations for the 2012 season have long been in full swing at Audi Sport in Neckarsulm and Ingolstadt.
Audi revealed that it will be undergoing a new LMP1 sports car development with the goal of continuing its series of wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Audi first participated in this particular race back in 1999 and since then, it has managed to achieve victories a total of 9 times, tying with Ferrari. These victories were made possible using various models like the R8, the R10 TDI, and the R15 TDI.
The brand is planning for the 10th win this 2011 season and it hopes to make this possible with the new Audi R18. Much like the first model it used when it first raced the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Audi R18 will be a closed coupe as well. In the future, according to Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, Head of Audi Motorsport, aerodynamic efficiency will play a significant role in the Le Mans.
Having a closed car presents obvious advantages, he adds, as these have already been seen in computer simulations done in the wind tunnel and even during the initial tests done on the track. One reason for the development program is that for 2011, Le Mans will be requiring smaller engines unlike those in previous races. This is because the goal was to lower significantly the engine power.
Audi will therefore utilize the TDI 3.7-liter V6 engine for 2011, the same diesel concept that the company first fielded back in 2006 and won. According to Audi Sport’s Head of Engine Development Ulrich Baretzky, the company believes that the TDI is still the most efficient technology there is. This is why a high number of the company’s production models are equipped with TDI units.
By using this advanced TDI V6 engine for the Le Mans, Audi is once again proving that motorsport is doing the pioneering work for its production arm. This is important as there is an increasing trend in vehicles that are more economical and smaller yet equipped with strong engines.
Since the R18 utilizes a smaller engine, there was also a need to develop a new 6-speed transmission. The new Audi R19 will be unveiled this Friday, December 10, 2010 at the Audi Sportpark located in Ingolstadt.