Ingolstadt/Sebring – AUDI AG once again demonstrated its courage to innovate and pioneering spirit with the vision to build a diesel-powered sportscar capable of winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans. In the meantime the revolutionary Audi R10 TDI has won twice at Le Mans, and remains unbeaten in its class after 21 races.
In the forthcoming week, Audi Sport returns with the near 650-hp diesel sportscar to the scene where the success story started two years ago: At the 12-hour race at Sebring (US state of Florida), two Audi R10 TDI prototypes line up on the grid driven by Dindo Capello/Tom Kristensen/Allan McNish and Lucas Luhr/Mike Rockenfeller/Marco Werner. On 18 March 2006, the R10 TDI won at Sebring on its race debut. It was the first victory for a diesel engine in an important sportscar race.
The R10 TDI fits perfectly to the Audi motorsport philosophy. The know-how collected with the V12 TDI power plant on the race track flows directly into the development of TDI engines for road cars. Latest example is the 500-hp Audi R8 TDI Le Mans. The fans can also marvel the first high-performance sportscar fitted with a twelve-cylinder diesel in the Sebring paddock.
It has always been important for Audi to learn in motorsport for production. For this reason Audi Sport is affiliated with the Technical Development (TE). "Audi Sport and the TE have become even more closely integrated in the last year," stresses Head of Audi Motorsport Dr Wolfgang Ullrich. "We work very closely together in every area. There is an intensive exchange in both directions."
TDI fits perfectly to a sportscar
Audi proves the performance capability of TDI Technology on the race track with the R10 TDI and also demonstrates that the characteristics of a TDI engine also fit perfectly to a sportscar. The Audi TT Coupé 2.0 TDI Quattro and the Audi TT Roadster 2.0 TDI Quattro, which both celebrated their world premieres at the Geneva Motor Show, are the first production sportscars which are equipped with a diesel engine as power source – the genes can be traced back to motorsport.
This year, Audi simultaneously starts a TDI offensive in the USA. The Le Mans Prototype is the trail blazer for this. Audi sees great potential, specifically in the USA, for its state-of-the-art TDI engines that consume up to 35 per cent less fuel than the average gasoline engine commonly used in the USA and which could therefore make a significant contribution to sinking CO2 emissions.
The efficiency of TDI Technology also reveals itself on the race track: In 2006, the victorious R10 TDI in Le Mans used approximately 20 per cent less fuel than the Audi R8 during its first win in the year 2000. As a result diesel sportscars must now compete with ten per cent smaller fuel tanks.
Motorsport accelerates technical development of Diesel fuels
The development of Diesel fuels is also accelerated by motorsport. Shell GTL Diesel is used in the R10 TDI. GTL (Gas-to-Liquids) is extracted from natural gas. The synthetic Diesel fuel reduces the consumption and burns extremely cleanly. GTL is the preliminary stage before BTL (Biomass-to-Liquids) for which bio-waste is used as the basic component and CO2 emissions are again reduced massively. The R10 TDI engine is already designed for the use BTL Diesel fuels.
With Peugeot a second automobile manufacturer competes for the first time at Sebring with a diesel sportscar, and which is a year younger than the Audi R10 TDI. Audi relies on the reliability of its TDI Technology in this head-to-head duel. Furthermore, numerous details of the R10 TDI were optimized for the 2008 season, including refined aerodynamics, weight reduction and a reworked engine.
A brace of Audi R10 TDI cars, freshly built to the latest technical standard, start at Sebring and will also be used on 14/15 June in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. As it is usually the case for Audi Sport, Sebring is simultaneously a test race for Le Mans. Audi Sport plans an additional 12-hour test with one of the two cars after the race at Sebring.
Audi to be inducted into Sebring’s "Hall of Fame"
Before the race is started on Saturday, 15 March at 10:05 a.m. local time, a special appointment is on the agenda for Head of Audi Motorsport Dr Wolfgang Ullrich and Johan de Nysschen, Vice President of Audi of America: One day before the race, Audi will be inducted into Sebring’s "Hall of Fame". Previously only two other automobile manufacturers had been inducted. The US race track thus acknowledges that Audi is unbeaten in the 12-hour race at Sebring for eight consecutive years.
"Being admitted to the Hall of Fame in Sebring is a great honor for Audi," says Head of Audi Motorsport Dr Wolfgang Ullrich. "We’ll do everything possible to win again this year. However, we are well aware just how strong the competition is, and in saying this I don’t just mean Peugeot, but also the LM P2 cars from Acura/Honda and Porsche, which still have a significant weight advantage in American and can compete with larger fuel tanks. As result they can save several pit stops. Apart from that Sebring is always a very hard and hot race and a real test for man and machine."
The Sebring schedule
Monday, 10 March
09:10 – 10:40 hrs Test session (GT1 / GT2)
10:50 – 12:20 hrs Test session (LM P1 / LM P2)
14:30 – 16:00 hrs Test session (GT1 / GT2)
16:10 – 17:40 hrs Test session (LM P1 / LM P2)
Tuesday, 11 March
13:00 – 13:30 hrs Test session (GT1 / GT2)
13:30 – 14:30 hrs Test session (all classes)
14:30 – 15:00 hrs Test session (LM P1 / LM P2)
Wednesday, 12 March
10:00 – 10:55 hrs Free practice (all classes)
14:15 – 15:10 hrs Free practice (all classes)
Thursday, 13 March
10:15 – 11:10 hrs Free practice (all classes)
15:05 – 15:30 hrs Qualifying (GT1 / GT2)
15:35 – 16:00 hrs Qualifying (LM P1 / LM P2)
19:15 – 21:00 hrs Night practice (all classes)
Friday, 14 March
09:55 – 10:55 hrs Free practice (all classes)
Saturday, 15 March
07:30 – 07:50 hrs Warm-up (all classes)
10:05 – 22:05 hrs Race (all classes)
Every winner of the 12-hour race at Sebring since 2000
2000 Biela/Kristensen/Pirro (Audi R8)
2001 Alboreto/Aiello/Capello (Audi R8)
2002 Capello/Herbert/Pescatori (Audi R8)
2003 Biela/Peter/Werner (Audi R8)
2004 Biela/Kaffer/McNish (Audi R8)
2005 Kristensen/Lehto/Werner (Audi R8)
2006 Capello/Kristensen/McNish (Audi R10 TDI)
2007 Biela/Pirro/Werner (Audi R10 TDI)
The Audi driver line-ups for Sebring 2008
#1 Dindo Capello/Tom Kristensen/Allan McNish
#2 Lucas Luhr/Mike Rockenfeller/Marco Werner