Audi AG is the world's first automobile manufacturer to develop a second generation diesel racing sports car. It aims to underline its supremacy and consolidate its expertise in car technology once more at the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans with the all-new Audi R15 TDI.
Lightweight construction, environmentally friendly drive concepts and well-thought out aerodynamics are the focus of attention at Le Mans, just as they are during the development of production cars. For this purpose, the regulations intentionally give the engineers plenty of freedom. So Audi Sport exploited this creative freedom and put a new LMP1 racecar on the track that differs significantly from all previous Le Mans sports cars.
"The R15 TDI has many detailed technical solutions never seen before on a sports prototype," explained Head of Audi Motorsport Dr Wolfgang Ullrich. "To a certain extent we followed entirely new routes."
The heart of the R15 TDI is a newly developed V10 TDI producing more than 600hp, with a maximum torque output in excess of 775 lb-ft, which reflects the latest version of Audi's TDI Technology.
The power unit is more compact and lighter than the 12-cylinder engine used in the preceding R10 TDI model. The specific fuel consumption and associated CO2 emissions could also be reduced. Innovations in the turbocharging and fuel injection areas simultaneously ensure improved engine response. The R15 TDI is also equipped with a new generation of even lighter diesel particle filters.
The new sports car's aerodynamics, which play a particularly important role at Le Mans, are extremely refined. Like the 2008 championship winning Audi A4 DTM, the airflow around and through the car was optimized with CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics). Included among the many innovative detail solutions, which can be spotted at first glance, are a rear wing suspended from the top and a high nose.
The vehicle electrical system in the Le Mans sports car is entirely new: A lithium- ion battery, as found in some hybrid vehicles, is used for the first time. It is lighter than a conventional battery and supplies a higher voltage.
The headlights fitted to the R15 TDI also benefit from the higher power. At Le Mans, Audi will compete for the first time with a low beam unit comprised entirely of LEDs, which represents the next generation of Audi LED technology for road cars.
Due to the aerodynamic concept, the front and rear suspension have been raised. Thanks to a longer wheelbase and the optimized vehicle weight, the R15 TDI is significantly more agile than its predecessor.
Audi is the only automobile manufacturer to have won the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans with a diesel car. "With the R15 TDI we have created the base to be in a position to also win in 2009," said Ullrich.
The Audi R15 TDI will celebrate its race debut at the 12-hour race in Sebring, FL on March 21. Audi Sport Team Joest plans to field three cars at the 24 Hours of Le Mans on June 13/14