Audi’s new contender for 2011 Le Mans 24 hour race, and other endurance series, is an all-new prototype called the R18.
Audi R18 TDI features a totally new body style with a full roof and new nose and signature LEDs of the daytime light form the shape of a “1″ which is intended to inspire associations with Audi’s historic brand logo.
The new car also uses a new engine, a 3.7-liter V6 TDI unit, which remains loyal to diesel as the source of power but offers even better fuel efficiency than the previous models. It’s also equipped with a six-speed transmission specifically modified for use with the smaller engine.
For the development of the closed R18, engineers at Audi Sport were able to draw on the experiences gained in 1999 with the R8C and in 2003 with the LMP1 of the corporate “sister brand” Bentley that was victorious at Le Mans. “Also the Audi A4 DTM, which for example, features a heated windshield, allowed us to shorten the development cycle with respect to the ventilation of the cockpit, the doors and the heating of the windshield,” explains Dr. Martin Mühlmeier, Head of Engineering at Audi Sport.
The racing debut of the Audi R18 is planned for the Spa-Francorchamps (Belgium) 6 Hours on May 8, 2011. Prior to the event, the new prototype will be able to do its first laps on the race track at Le Mans during the official test day on April 24 and gather important data for the race on June 11 and 12, 2011.