Image credits: © Audi.
2010 Audi R15 plus TDI news, pictures, and information
As a result of the presence of the 'Lion', Audi went back and designed a totally new car. What emerged was the revolutionary R15. The R15 won in its debut at Sebring in 2009. But, Le Mans was not so joyous for the Ingolstadt team. It could be argued the R15 was too revolutionary. By the end of the race, the R15 had been unable to maintain Audi's dominant grip on the historic 24 hour race. The car needed to be refined, perhaps simplified even.
Another aspect that came into play with Audi's refinement process of the R15 was some belated regulations meant to slow down the performance of the diesel engines. Regulations for 2010 mandated smaller diameter air restrictors. This decreases engine power. The rule-makers also tried to level performance differences in other ways as well, such as hindering turbocharger pressures. What this all meant was there was a greater emphasis and importance placed on aerodynamics and downforce. As Dr. Martin Mühlmeier, Head of Technology at Audi Sport was quoted as saying, 'After Le Mans 2009, our specifications for the R15 Plus listed about 20 key items. Efficiency and reliability were at the top of the list…'
Of course it wasn't as though the R15 had been a poorly designed car. But factors, many of them unforeseen, hampered what the R15 needed most, track time. The economic crisis slashed Audi's testing budget and testing was further hindered by many rained out sessions. Therefore, the drivers and the team were never truly able to become comfortable with its complicated and revolutionary aerodynamics. The team didn't have the time to discover how best to work with the new car under ever-changing circumstances that are normal in endurance racing. This left the Audi camp appearing un-characteristically unprepared at Le Mans, and this despite having won at Sebring. Changes needed to be made. What resulted was what has become known as the R15 Plus.
So, what are the differences between the 2010 and 2009 challengers? A wholly redesigned nose for one thing. The 2009 R15 had a slotted nose. This was practically abandoned, and instead, a two-pronged nose emerged. Essentially, the front edge of the R15's nose had been removed and the crash structure left exposed. The same effect of the slotted nose remains, to a degree, with airflow being able to pass either under or over the nose. This, however, became rather less important as the design team abandoned worrying about air passing through the car and, instead, employed a more conventional design to the 'Plus'. The slotted nose on the R15 allowed a portion of the large volume of air passing under the nose to escape out of the top, thereby helping to prevent any airflow-bottlenecking underneath the nose. Any bottlenecking of airflow meant there was drag created which hindered performance and stability, particularly downforce.
One area of controversy on the 2009 R15 was the adjustable wing that sat just behind the nose-pillars. Though Audi was never forced to change this, when designing the R15 Plus, this was altogether abandoned in favor of a non-adjustable wing element designed into deck-floor right near the quadruple nose-pillars. What Audi did incorporate, that was adjustable and also helped with downforce, were small wing-plane elements that could be attached to the inner-wall of the front-wheel fairings. Similar to the much smaller wing elements commonly seen on the outside of the front-wheel fairing, these wing elements help to add downforce and balance at the front of the car. These elements avoid the controversy simply because they do not constitute a winged structure. They do not extend the entire way across. Each of the wing elements stops at the nose-pillars.
Having mentioned the wheel fairings, those too have been redesigned. On the R15, the front-edge of the wheel fairings were designed in such a way as to direct airflow toward the outside of the car. This was partly due to the focus placed on efficiency and controlling airflow, but also, it was to direct airflow in such a way that the small wing elements attached to the outside of the wheel fairing would receive the maximum airflow possible. This meant these small wing elements could produce the maximum amount of downforce possible. However, with the main wing now incorporated into the deck of the 'Plus', along with the addition of the wing-plane elements that attach to the inside of the wheel fairings, the need to direct airflow to the outside of the car wasn't as much an issue. So now, the leading-edge of the wheel fairings are much more rounded. The team still uses the wing elements that attach to the outside of the wheel fairings, but they have been notably smaller.
An internal change that is incorporated into the front wheel fairings are the headlights. The drivers wanted some changes to help with visibility at night. Changes were made. Another headlight was able to be added and overall visibility has improved.
One other obvious change made to the nose of the R15 Plus is the redesigned tiered planes that attach from the nose to the wheel fairings. On last year's R15 there was one large plane element and two other smaller planes tiered, going back toward the sidepods. This has mostly been abandoned on the 'Plus'. Instead, there is a smaller plane on either side of the nose and a much larger plane that sweeps up from behind. Whereas the original R15 had multiple planes to help direct and control airflow, the Plus' smaller planes are the main source of that control. Once the airflow makes its way past those smaller planes the airflow either continues on to the radiator inlets in the sidepods, or, is directed up and over the top of the car by the contour of the larger plane element. This helped to further simplify the aerodynamics on the R15 Plus. Overall, there are still huge openings for the air to flow through the nose of the car, much of the conventional design work comes into play aft of the front wheels.
One of the important design features of the R15 was a tighter waist. This meant the engine, and other components at the rear of the car, were pulled forward and away from the rear wing. This was so to allow a channel between the rear wheels and the gearbox. This helped to pull airflow back inward at the rear of the car. This helped to reduce the wake usually caused by airflow directed out to the side of the car. This wake increases drag and instability at the rear of the car. To help with pulling the airflow into the waist area at the rear of the car, the design of the front wheel fairings were incorporated to help direct the airflow inward at the rear of the car. On the R15 Plus the wheel fairing design of its predecessor was largely dropped in favor of a design similar to that used by Peugeot on their 908 HDi FAP. The trailing edge of the wheel fairing has, as part of its design, contours to help direct the airflow around the sidepods, but it stops just past the front of the sidepods. Another slot was added, however, just aft of the front wheels to help with cooling effects, and with eradicating any other destabilizing airflow around the wheels.
Another area that was further simplified was the sidepods. The R15 incorporated a number of louvers to help with cooling and with the build up of airflow at the entrance of the radiator inlet. On the latest evolution of the R15, the sidepod has been smoothed over and the louvers removed. The radiator inlets remained largely unchanged. The sidepods still retain the R15's design whereby the sidepods are pulled in at the bottom and contoured and sculpted out toward the top. The sidepods remaining tight to the cockpit, incorporated with the wheel fairing extending back on the R15, helped to direct airflow out the sides of the car, but also, toward the channel at the rear of the car. This design feature was largely dropped in favor of a more conventional design whereby the sidepods are wider and merely direct the airflow out to the sides of the car, similar to the design found on the Peugeot 908 HDi FAP. The overall height of the sidepod design on the R15 Plus has been increased. This increase in height led the design team to use a much more moderate slope in the rear wheel fairings.
On the original R15 there were a couple of channel openings placed just ahead of the rear wheels to help pull airflow back in toward the middle of the car, helping to reduce the car's wake. This arrangement on the R15 Plus was changed in favor of a single shutter allowing airflow into the channel.
There were some areas of the R15 Plus that remained virtually unchanged from its predecessor. The cockpit and roll-hoop arrangement remained unchanged, but the fuel system has been updated. Despite the new pitstop regulations, Audi decided to retain its open-cockpit design, even though it is believed to cause a greater amount of drag than a closed cockpit coupe. The air-collector for the turbochargers underwent refinement on the original R15. However, the design incorporated into the R15 Plus was largely unchanged from the last derivative used on its predecessor. The exhaust deck arrangement has been retained as it helps to keep weight in toward the center of the car, thereby, maintaining stability within the chassis. In addition to the exhaust deck, the rear wing has remained largely unchanged with a couple of exceptions.
The width of the rear wing, going into the 2009 season, had been reduced in width. This effectively reduced downforce at the rear of the car. To help overcome this on the 2010 chassis, the leading edge of the wing is contoured. The leading edge has been contoured in such a way that the greatest amount of downforce is produced in toward the middle part of the wing. In this arrangement, the greatest amount of downforce is generated toward the middle of the rear of the car. It is also, therefore, the place where the greatest amount aerodynamic stresses are created. The swan-neck style of wing support pillars has been retained, only placed farther apart to help deal with the increased forces generated in that area of the wing.
Some other areas of the new generation of the R15 that have remained unchanged would include the use of LED lighting in the rear wing to act as brake lights, as well as, for low-beam lighting up front with the headlights. Some of the other aspects that remained relatively untouched from the R15 to the 'Plus' version were things like the carbon fiber monocoque chassis, the electronically assisted rack-and-pinion steering and XTrac gearbox. The gearbox retains the same 5-speed paddle actuated system that was used on the R15, only updated with refinements to the traction control system.
Of course one of the major things to remain unchanged in the R15 Plus is the big 5.5 liter, twin-turbo, V10 diesel designed and updated by Dr. Ulrich Baretzky. Despite being further hindered by regulations aimed at drawing down the performance of the diesel engines, Dr. Ulrich was still able to refine his V10 to enable it to still be able to produce around 590bhp. Being a diesel engine, the amount of torque the engine is able to produce is greater than a petrol-powered car. And the Audi's V10 is still capable of producing well over 800 ft-lbs of power-to-the-road torque. It wouldn't be too doubtful that despite the efforts of the Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO) to level performance between the diesel and petrol powered cars, the diesel's will still hold a huge performance advantage.
Much of the story of the R15 Plus can be understood just with a first glance. Overall, its appearance is very similar to that of its predecessor, but there are some major changes in the chassis design. This reflects the effects the new regulations had on the Audi design team. Many of the changes were the result of the embarrassment the team experienced at Le Mans in 2009. The other changes made were the result of the difficulties the team had due to their inexperience with the revolutionary design employed on the R15. Internally, the 'Plus' is not a new car. But what is seen on the outside is wholly new, including the team's hopes. Internally it is still the same strong, dedicated team that has dominated at Le Mans for much of the decade. On the outside are the changes necessary to maximize their chances, and Audi always has a chance to win. Audi is no longer the unprepared, perhaps timid team of Le Mans in 2009. Audi is back on the hunt.
Wikipedia contributors, 'Audi R15 TDI', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 8 November 2010, 09:45 UTC, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Audi_R15_TDI&oldid=395516792 accessed 9 November 2010
'Audi R15 Plus', (http://www.ultimatecarpage.com/car/4480/Audi-R15-plus-TDI.html), Ultimatecarpage.com. http://www.ultimatecarpage.com/car/4480/Audi-R15-plus-TDI.html. Retrieved 9 November 2010.
'Audi R15 'plus' TDI shows off new, more aerodynamic nose', (http://www.autoblog.com/2010/03/15/audi-r15-plus-tdi-shows-off-new-more-aerodynamic-nose/), Autoblog: We Obsessively Cover the Auto-Industry. http://www.autoblog.com/2010/03/15/audi-r15-plus-tdi-shows-off-new-more-aerodynamic-nose/. Retrieved 9 November 2010.
By Jeremy McMullen
Audi Sport: 2010 Le Mans SeriesOne of Audi's special strengths has been its ability to take innovative technology and make it into a incredibly reliable machine. This special strength of Audi had been a point of dominance in sports car racing throughout the first decade of the new millennium. However, its revolutionary R15 proved to be more of a weakness in 2009 than it was a strength.
Audi totally abandoned its R10 and came up with an entirely new design. The R10 had been focused around the diesel engine. Aerodynamics of the chassis took somewhat of a back seat to the engine. With the presence of Peugeot's radical 908 HDi FAP, Audi's focus would change. The out-right speed of the Peugeot was creating performance gaps Audi just could not match with the R10. Therefore, the R15 came into being.
The R15 focused on routing air through the chassis instead of trying to bend it around and over the car. This approach was to help reduce turbulence, and therefore, drag. Though with very little testing under its belt, the R15 was taken to the 12 Hours of Sebring and promptly won the event. However, from that time on, the R15 struggled.
It wasn't that the design was bad, it wasn't. The simple fact was that it was almost too revolutionary. In addition to driver mistakes, the R15 struggled at Le Mans in 2009, a place Audi had dominated ever since 2000. The revolutionary innovations would prove incapable of continuing Audi's dominance at Le Mans.
The R15 was introduced rather late and was not able to go through the testing necessary to ensure the car would be strong. Therefore, heading into the 2010 season Audi cooled its jets slightly. The basic design of the R15 remained, but much of the radical aerodynamic functions would go through simplification. What would result would be the R15 'Plus'.
In addition to simplifying the radical chassis, the team went back to testing and racing in order to properly prepare for the season, and especially, the 2010 running of the 24 Hour of Le Mans. In 2009, Audi Sport would not take part in either the American Le Mans Series (like it had ever since 1999), or, the Le Mans Series. This hampered the team's preparation and development of the R15. This changed heading into 2010.
Heading into the 2010 season, Audi Sport announced it would take part in a few of the Le Mans Series races. Surprisingly, Audi Sport would not make the trip across the Atlantic to take part in the 12 Hours of Sebring on March 20th. Instead, the team's first race would the 8 Hours of Castellet in the early part of April.
The team appeared with its radical livered R15 'Plus' at Paul Ricard for the 8 hour race. The race was the longest event on the Le Mans Series calendar since the Mil Milhas Brazil race back in 2007. This would, therefore, provide the team extended ‘testing' time on the track with other competition.
Qualifying was tense and drama filled. It would also be a good sign for Audi for the start of the season. Team Oreca Matmut had come to an agreement with Team Peugeot Total and would be given a 2010 diesel-powered 908. This meant Audi would be squaring-off against Peugeot without the factory effort being present. This would give the team a good opportunity to see where they stood performance-wise. After qualifying, Audi Sport would be encouraged.
Nicolas Lapierre would end up lapping the 3.61 mile long circuit with a time of one minute and forty-one seconds. Rinaldo Capello would take the R15 and would set the second-fastest overall time in qualifying, but the gap was significant. In the past few years, Audi had gotten used to being out-qualified by Peugeot by seconds. This was not the case at Paul Ricard. Capello's time was only a little over four tenths of a second slower than that of Lapierre's. Aston Martin Racing 009, driven by Stefan Mucke, would end up qualifying 3rd and would be the best qualifier of the petrol-powered cars.
Audi Sport entered only one car for the 8 hour race. The one car was the number 7 R15 driven by Allan McNish and Rinaldo 'Dindo' Capello. Tom Kritensen was on hand but would not be entered to take part in the race.
Allan McNish would start the race behind the wheel of the R15. As the green light shown to start the race, McNish was in a dog-fight with the Team Oreca Peugeot. Allan had the nose of the R15 right up the diffuser of the Peugeot. Unfortunately, the Peugeot bobbled just before heading down the long back stretch. The bobble slowed up McNish, which allowed the 009 Lola-Aston Martin to come through and into the lead. The bobble would allow McNish to get by into second and begin the chase of the Aston Martin. It would only take three laps before Allan was able to use the draft down the long back straight to his advantage. He would get by and would set sail into the distance. From that point on Audi Sport left the rest of the competitors to work out who would finish on the podium with them.
The dominant Audi reliability was present at Le Castellet. Once the team had the lead they would not relinquish it. Dindo Capello and Allan McNish would end up completing 266 laps by the end of the race and would lead 263 of them. They would cruise to the victory by five laps over the 009 Lola-Aston Martin. Another petrol-powered Lola; that of Rebellion Racing's number 13 Lola B10/60, would finish the race 3rd also down five laps at the end. Struggles hampered Team Oreca Matmut and their Peugeot 908. They would finish the race 4th and down eight laps. The victory put Capello and McNish at the top of the Le Mans Series Championship in LMP1. Furthermore, it appeared Audi had found its own dominant groove. Peugeot would end up having something to say about that.
The team's second race of the season was the second round of the Le Mans Series Championship, which was held at the Spa-Francorchamps Circuit in the early part of May. A little over a month before Le Mans, the 1000km of Spa would be considered the final 'dress rehearsal' before the 24 hour endurance race.
Since it was the final race before the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Audi would bring its three cars to the race. Audi's line-up included: in the number 7 Audi, Allan McNish, Dindo Capello and Tom Kristensen; in Audi number 8, Marcel Fassler, Andre Lotterer and Benoit Treluyer; in car number 9, Timo Bernhard, Mike Rockenfeller and Romain Dumas.
The 4.33 mile course through the Ardennes forest provides teams with a great setting to make final preparations before heading to Le Mans. The fast straights from Eau Rouge to Les Combe, and from Courbe Paul Frere to the new bus-stop chicane, allow the cars to extend their legs and enables teams to see what kind of performance their cars are capable of turning. In addition, the course features some very brave, high-speed sweeping corners that test a car's stability and agility. All-in-all, Spa-Francorchamps provides teams a good glimpse of what to expect when they get to the Circuit de la Sarthe. And that also includes weather.
Audi faced-off against Team Peugeot for the first time at the 1000km race. Team Peugeot had gone to the 12 Hours of Sebring and won that event. They too took the opportunity to take part in the Spa 1000km to make final preparations for Le Mans.
Unlike the last two years, Audi had managed to close the performance gap, and it was evident in qualifying. Despite the presence of three Team Peugeot 908s, the first four spots would not be swept by the Peugeots of the factory or Team Oreca. Team Peugeot number 3, driven by Sebastien Bourdais, would set the fastest time in qualifying with a lap of one minute and fifty-seven seconds. Less than a second slower, Audi Sport's North America entry, number 9, set the second-fastest time. Team Peugeot car, number 2, would start 3rd. Andre Lotterer would set a lap time fast enough for the number 8 Audi to start the race 5th. Tom Kristensen set the 6th fastest time in the number 7 Audi Sport R15.
Another aspect Spa throws at the competitors, which is always good training before Le Mans, is its usually unpredictable weather. Sure enough, as the cars left the grid on the pace lap rain began falling between the areas of Eau Rouge, Les Combe and Pouhon. Immediately, the grip was gone from the cars as they headed out with slick tires on. Most unfortunate for Audi, the low grip levels would end up biting even before the start of the race. As Andre Lotterer made his way through Les Combe, the back-end stepped out. Poor Andre was merely a passenger by that time. The number 8 R15 Plus struck the tire-wall heavily on its right-rear. It swung the car around until it came to a rest facing the tire-wall. Though he was able to get the car back to the pits, the damage, and the necessary work to repair it, meant the number 8 Audi would start the race all the way at the back of the 50 car field and would be on a simulation run as a result.
The race started cleanly enough for the other two Audis, especially considering how treacherous the conditions were climbing the hill at Eau Rouge. Timo Bernhard bobbled his car going through the compression at the bottom of the hill. This closed Allan McNish right on the back of his car going down the Kemmel straight. McNish would get the position and would look to move forward.
By the end of the first lap, the Audi of McNish was sitting 3rd, while the number 9 Audi would be in 5th. A heavy crash by an LMP2 car at the top of Eau Rouge brought out the safety car. When the race returned to speed the rain was falling slightly heavier in spots. This would hinder Audi number 9 as over the next ten laps they would slip down to 7th overall.
Also, after the safety car period ended, the number 8 Audi returned to the race albeit a number of laps down. Meanwhile, Allan McNish continued on his tentative way. After a number of laps the sun started to show itself again and the track began to dry out. By the 30th lap of the race Allan had been able to take over the lead of the race and would stay in the top-two places for the next 30 laps. Just after McNish began to fight for the lead another drama began to play out around the track.
A power outage around the track would end up leading to the race being stopped because the race officials had no timing and scoring. The red flag would end up hurting Audi.
As the power resumed at Spa, as well as the racing, Audi number 7 had lost its lead. Over the course of the last half of the race, car number 7 would fight for the first runner-up position. Meanwhile, Audi number 9 appeared stuck right where it was before the red flag period.
All of the extra-curricular drama seemed to settle down toward the last third of the race. Team Peugeot was in the lead and would not look back. Team Peugeot's number 2 was able to survive a rather big shunt right before the red flag period and would stay close to its sister car in 2nd. McNish, Capello and Kristensen would keep the pressure on Peugeot in 3rd.
At the end of an eventful race the number 3 Peugeot would go on to take the victory completing 139 laps. Its sister car, number 2, would hold on to finish 2nd over Audi's number 7. Audi's number 9 R15 would end the race two laps down in 5th overall. And the poor number 8, which had the shunt during the pace lap before the race start, would end up being able to come all the way up from the tail-end of the grid to finish the race 12th overall.
Over a month after Spa, Audi Sport arrived in Le Mans looking to return to its position of dominance at the French classic.
As was the case at Spa, and Audi's usual practice at Le Mans, the team entered three cars in the 24 Hour race. What was different for Audi in 2010, compared to the years prior, was the fact the performance gap between themselves and Peugeot wasn't as wide as it had been. While qualifying wouldn't make it all that clear, the race would.
On the first day of qualifying, the Peugeots dominated the pace. The number 3 Peugeot would even crack off a lap at three minutes and nineteen seconds around the 8.46 mile road course. All four Peugeots of Team Peugeot and Oreca Matmut would garner the first four spots. Unlike the year before, the gap between the Peugeots and the first of the Audis was less than three seconds. For on the second day of qualifying, the number 9 Audi was able to record a best lap of three minutes and twenty-one seconds. This was less than two and a half seconds slower than the lap set by the number 3 Peugeot on the first day of qualifying.
At the end of qualifying the field consisted of Peugeots in the first four positions on the grid followed by the three Audi Sport R15s. The number 9 Audi R15 would be the fastest of the team and would start the race 5th. Number 9 was the car driven by Mike Rockenfeller, Timo Bernhard and Romain Dumas. Next, in the 6th overall position, was the number 7 R15 of Allan McNish, Dindo Capello and Tom Kristensen. 7th overall went to the number 8 Audi of Andre Lotterer, Marcel Fassler and Benoit Treluyer.
As the race got underway, the French team and French car pulled away at the front, but no where near at the rate of the previous years. McNish started the race for the number 7 car and would end up getting inside the number 9 to assume the Audi chase. The pace was good. However, an early safety card period hurt Audi's pursuit of Peugeot.
Nigel Mansell's shunt on the 4th lap led to the safety car being deployed. At Le Mans, three different safety cars were deployed at different places around the track. At the time the gap was sufficient for the Audi's to be picked up by a separate safety car than that which had picked up the Peugeots. This separated the teams all the more and handed Audi a minute penalty, right at the early stages of the race. This, combined with the pace of the Peugeots, allowed the French team to dominate the first half of the 24 hour race.
It wasn't all smooth sailing for Peugeot, however. The number 3 Peugeot exited the race after only 38 laps. This left three Peugeot 908s to try and repeat as Le Mans champion.
50 laps into the race, the number 7's chances at an overall victory took a dramatic turn for the worse. Tom Kristensen was preparing to lap a GT2 car which had a punctured tire. Toward the last moment, the driver of the GT2 car swerved to the outside in the Porsche curves to allow Tom to have the inside racing line. Tom had already committed to go to the outside. The move was too late and all Kristensen could do so to protect himself from a big impact was to go further out wide and through the gravel. He would end up needing a tow out of that position and would further lose time in the pits repairing the car. This effectively handed the race over to the number 9 and 8 Audis to take the fight to the Peugeots.
Audi would push, but Peugeot would practically the hand the race to Audi. Peugeots' drivers pushed hard, perhaps harder than they needed to. Drivers were hitting the curbs hard. They were making missteps in a race where such actions would haunt later. Sure enough, Peugeot would be paid back.
One-by-one, the diesel 908's would suffer from engine failures. Because of the amateurish driving that had taken place, each of the 908s had lost time in the pits. This gave the lead to the number 9 Audi. In an effort to try and snatch the victory back, Peugeot's drivers drove the 908 very close to qualifying lap times every single lap in the last few hours of the race. This was too much for the cars, especially after they had already gone through so much over the course of the previous twenty hours already.
Smoke and fire would pour out of the right side of the Peugeots as their precious diesel engines would let go. Within a period of about two hours, the three remaining Peugeots self-destructed. This left Audi one-two-three. Almost thirty laps separated the 3rd place Audi number 7 and the next overall competitor. Therefore, for the last hour of the race, all Audi had to do was make sure it stayed out of trouble and it could have crawled to victory.
After being embarrassed by Peugeot the year before, Audi returned to the place of prominence with an emphatic display of dominance. Sure, the team may not have had the pace, but its dominance in reliability and smart racing more than made up for the performance deficit.
Audi number 9, driven by Rockenfeller, Bernhard and Dumas would take the overall victory. Car number 8, driven by Lotterer, Fassler and Treluyer finished one lap down in 2nd. And, the veteran team in car 7 of McNish, Capello and 'Mr. Le Mans' Tom Kristensen finished 3rd, three laps down. The finish was also historic in another way. The number 9 Audi had been able to better the distance record set all the way back in 1971. In 1971 the record of 397 laps was set on a course that didn't have the chicanes and was shorter. Despite the presence of the chicanes, the diesel-powered R15 was able to get on down the road fast enough to reset the record-book.
Audi Sport would sit back and enjoy its dominant Le Mans victory for a couple of months as no Audi car would be entered in any Le Mans Series race until the season headed across the English Channel for its one and only time in September.
The 1000km of Silverstone was scheduled for the 12th of September. The race at the famous race course was the last round of the Le Mans Series Championship, but it was the first round of the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup.
The Intercontinental Le Mans Cup was an endeavor to unite sports car racing on a global scale. In 2010, only three races made up the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup. The first round was at Silverstone. The second round would be across the pond in Georgia for the Petit Le Mans. The third and final round was the 1000km of Zhuhai in China.
In addition to being part of a new series, Silverstone presented the Le Mans challengers a new track layout as well. 2010 marked the first time the Le Mans Series would compete on the longer 'Areana' configuration. Including a portion of track that wound through the infield portion of the Silverstone Circuit, the Arena layout was a half mile longer than the Bridge layout that had been normally used over the past few years.
Riding the wave of the Le Mans victory, Audi's two entries led the way in qualifying. The feisty Scot, Allan McNish wrestled with his R15 Plus and was able to set the fastest time with a lap around the 3.66 mile course in one minute and forty-three seconds. Almost a full second slower, the number 8 Audi, driven by Timo Bernhard, was able to qualify 2nd for the race. Nicolas Minassian, in Team Peugeot's only entry, was a full second slower and started the race 3rd.
The driver line-up for the 1000km race was different than the normal line-up for Audi. Instead of McNish and Capello being teamed together, Allan and Tom Kristensen were paired-up. Dindo Capello was paired up in the number 8 car with Timo Bernhard.
The race got started with the Scot holding onto the lead and powering away with the number 1 Team Peugeot 908 tucked right in his diffuser. Meanwhile, the number 8 Audi slipped down into 3rd and was holding on to that position throughout the first few laps.
Throughout the first 10 laps of the race McNish held station at the lead but was under heavy pursuit. Allan headed into slower GT2 traffic and would end up just getting held up enough that the Peugeot could get by and take the lead. The sister Audi R15 was stuck in 4th place behind the Oreca Matmut Peugeot.
Then, on the 15th lap, the unexpected happened. The well-known reliability of Audi took a hit to its reputation. Suddenly, McNish's R15 slowed to a halt on the track. Allan promptly got out and walked away. The race was over for the number 7 Audi. This left the team's hopes with the number 8 pairing of Bernhard and Capello. Despite all they tried, the duo could not challenge for the win.
The Peugeot pairing of Nicolas Minassian and Anthony Davidson would go on to complete 170 laps and take the victory over Team Oreca Matmut's Peugeot 908. Audi's number 8 finished the race on the same lap but in 3rd.
Despite not taking part in two of the races in the Le Mans Series Championship, the number 7 Audi still managed to finish 4th in the LMP1 standings. The number 8 and number 9 Audis would end up finishing the Le Mans Series Championship in 9th and 13th place. Peugeot's victory in what was the first round of the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup would make things difficult for Audi; however, if it aspired to earn that championship.
The second round of the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup was the Petit Le Mans, which took place at the Road Atlanta circuit in Braselton, Georgia. The Petit Le Mans, held at the Road Atlanta track has been a premier event for the American Le Mans Series for years. But, with the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup, it truly entered and world-wide stage.
The presence of Audi and Peugeot at the 2010 running of the Petit Le Mans meant the pace around the 2.54 mile road course would again be fast and furious. The record lap around Road Atlanta was achieved by a diesel-powered Peugeot back in 2008. Qualifying times for the 2010 running of the race were within a second of that record lap time.
Anthony Davidson, who helped Peugeot win at Silverstone, set the fastest lap in qualifying with a lap of one minute and seven seconds in the number 07 Peugeot 908. Pedro Lamy, in Peugeot number 08 qualified with a time less than three tenths slower and would start 2nd. Benoit Treluyer was the fastest of the Audis in car number 9 when he recorded a lap a half a second slower than Davidson's pole time. Dindo Capello put the second Audi, car number 7, 4th on the grid after recording a time one second slower than Anthony's time.
The Petit Le Mans, in the very early part of October, consists of a 1000 mile race that normally takes the better part of nine hours to complete. The twisty and fast course presents drivers little room for error, which is easy to do over the course of an 8+ hour race.
Capello qualified the car and McNish would start the race in the number 7 Audi. In car number 9, Fassler would start the race.
The Peugeots would lead the way during the early going of the race, followed closely by the number 7 and 9 Audis. Throughout the first 40 laps Peugeot had the lead. But then, on lap 44, McNish was able to get by and into the lead. However, by the time Allan was able to take over the lead, the race for Audi Sport, on a whole started to go strangely wrong.
Normally, Audi wears down its competition by simply making no mistakes. Every little detail comes under the microscope and Audi works on those details so there is no weak link in the team's armor. At Petit Le Mans, there weren't merely chinks in the armor, the armor just began to fall off altogether. The downward spiral of strange happenings began after 96 laps had been completed.
Fassler was surprised under braking by the slower pace of a lower-class prototype. This caused the Audi pilot to twitch to the right and off into the grass. He would avoid real problems, but it would signal the beginning of the strange events to follow.
Unfortunately for the Audi number 9, troubles would revisit them some 30 laps later. Misjudging how much room he needed to give a slower car, Lotterer ran too wide and struck the edge of one of the curbs through the esses. As a result, the front nose of the car was sheared off. After briefly coming to a rest in the grass, he was able to re-fire the car and get it back to the pits. Unfortunately, the car and the team would lose a great deal of time and position in the race.
The real strange happening took place while the number 7 Audi was in the lead. Capello had taken over for McNish and had only been in the car about an hour when, all-of-a-sudden, he was slow around the course. This allowed the number 08 Peugeot, which had been running 2nd, to get by the two Audis running together and come up into the lead. What had slowed Dindo caused the Audi sister-car to also get trapped. This opened the door for the Peugeot. After only an hour, Capello returned to the pits. McNish scurried back into the cockpit after a lengthy stop and rejoined the race a lap down. The problem was not something with the R15, but with Capello's balaclava. It was coming down over his eyes and he was unable to see the track clearly. Though Audi number 7 would continue to challenge for the lead throughout the rest of the race, mostly due to errors by Peugeot drivers, the strange happenings signaled it was not going to be Audi's race to win. It was going to be Peugeot's to lose. They would not.
By ten, on Saturday evening, the number 08 Peugeot had gone on to take the victory by over a minute in front of its Peugeot sister-car number 07. The number 7 Audi R15 of Capello, Kristensen and McNish would end up finishing 3rd two laps down. The second Audi R15, that of car number 9, would finish the race but seventeen laps down and 6th overall.
After the embarrassment in the United States, Audi looked to end its season, and the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup, on a strong note. The final round took place further west, much further west.
By the first week of November, Audi was in Zhuhai, China for the 1000km of Zhuhai. This was the third and final round of the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup and it was also the second race of the Asian Le Mans Series.
At each of the Intercontinental races, Audi had brought two cars. As it was at Silverstone, the driver pairings included Allan McNish with Tom Kristensen, and, Dindo Capello with Romain Dumas. Team Peugeot Total would also bring two diesel-powered 908s to the race as well.
In qualifying, the Peugeots continued to show the way. Number 2 Peugeot would sit on the pole after setting a lap time of one minute and twenty-one seconds around the 2.68 mile road course. The number 1 Peugeot would start 2nd after it would record a time one second slower than its sister-car.
Audi number 7, the car of McNish and Kristensen, would start 3rd on the grid after qualifying with a time over a second slower than the number 2 Peugeot. The track had been drying out and looked good for a dry qualifying lap. However, just as Kristensen went out it started raining again. This caused the time to be a poor reflection of what Audi believed it would be able to do on the slow circuit. The number 8 Audi of Capello and Dumas would start beside its teammate in 4th after posting a time over two seconds slower than the pole-sitting Peugeot.
Twenty-three cars would start the race. The track, despite a couple of long straights, was very slow in pace. This offered Audi hope. It believed it would be able to stay with the Peugeots as torque, instead of top-end speed, would be of paramount importance.
The race would see a number of teams gamble with set-up as the circuit was relatively unknown, and, because of the rain, the true pace of the circuit was also somewhat of a guessing game. Right from the start, the Peugeots led the way. However, the number 8 Audi tried a different strategy early on and was fast enough to come up into 2nd.
The second-half of the race would end up causing a bitter taste in the mouth of Audi. McNish and Kristensen drove absolutely superb and had a lead of a number of seconds over the Peugeots. A late safety car reduced the lead the Audis had. The number 1 Peugeot seemingly held up Kristensen in the number 7 Audi, which allowed the Peugeot to catch up and pass into the lead.
At the end of 232 laps, Team Peugeot's car number 2 would win the race over Audi number 7 and number 8. Despite looking poised to end the season with a victory, Audi walked away with another bitter disappointment. Peugeot's victory ensured that it would end up winning the constructor championship as part of the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup. Audi would end up coming in 2nd in the LMP1 category.
Besides its highlights, which included a victory at the 8 Hours of Le Castellet and, of course, the sterling one-two-three at Le Mans, the 2010 season was, more or less, a let-down for the Ingolstadt team. Uncharacteristic errors and reliability issues led to a number of chances slipping through the team's fingers. Although the team returned to its dominant ways at Le Mans, Audi Sport, by no means, has returned to its overall dominant form that people had grown accustomed throughout the early and middle parts of the decade in the new millennium.
Heading into 2011, Audi Sport announced it would design an all-new coupe. The regulations, especially concerning pit-stops, favor the top-end speed the coupe offers over an open-cockpit chassis. Perhaps its new coupe challenger will also be able to compete with the Peugeot in top-end speed, which will undoubtedly help Audi get back to refining its details instead of trying to push the car too hard and making uncharacteristic mistakes.
Wikipedia contributors, '2010 24 Hours of Le Mans', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 30 January 2011, 13:59 UTC, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=2010_24_Hours_of_Le_Mans&oldid=410962920 accessed 15 February 2011
'Race Lap Charts: 2010 Petit Le Mans Lap Chart', (http://www.americanlemans.com/primary1.php?cat=results). American Le Mans Series. http://www.americanlemans.com/primary1.php?cat=results. Retrieved 15 February 2011.
'2010 Audi R15 TDI Diesel Race Sports Car', (http://www.topspeed.com/cars/audi/2010-audi-r15-tdi-diesel-race-sports-car-ar86426.html. TopSpeed: No Boring Cars. http://www.topspeed.com/cars/audi/2010-audi-r15-tdi-diesel-race-sports-car-ar86426.html. Retrieved 15 February 2011.
'Races Review', (http://www.lemans-series.com/en/s55_stat_archive_courses/s55p01_classement.php?annee=2010). Le Mans Series. http://www.lemans-series.com/en/s55_stat_archive_courses/s55p01_classement.php?annee=2010. Retrieved 15 February 2011.
Wikipedia contributors, 'Road Atlanta', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 3 February 2011, 18:58 UTC, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Road_Atlanta&oldid=411828304 accessed 15 February 2011
Wikipedia contributors, '2010 Intercontinental Le Mans Cup', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 30 December 2010, 02:23 UTC, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=2010_Intercontinental_Le_Mans_Cup&oldid=404922033 accessed 15 February 2011
Wikipedia contributors, 'Silverstone Circuit', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 5 February 2011, 21:51 UTC, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Silverstone_Circuit&oldid=412225646 accessed 15 February 2011
Wikipedia contributors, '2010 Le Mans Series season', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 10 February 2011, 00:04 UTC, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=2010_Le_Mans_Series_season&oldid=413010065 accessed 15 February 2011
'Allan McNish's Race Diary-ILMC Zhuhai', (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8zbf7uHGOwE&feature=related). Autosport.com. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8zbf7uHGOwE&feature=related. Retrieved 15 February 2011. By Jeremy McMullen
Progressive design for the Audi R15 TDI• Diesel race sports car wîth a fresh outfit
• Audi design team demonstrates 'pleasure in efficiency'
• Test in racing conditions at Le Castellet
Ingolstadt, April 5, 2010 - Audi wants to surprise the spectators at this year's 24-hour race at Le Mans (France) wîth a progressive design: the Audi Design Team created a fresh outfit for the innovative diesel race sports car that bears all the hallmarks of 'pleasure in efficiency.'
Whereas silver was the dominant color of the Audi R15 TDI last year, the 2010 model boasts a radical new design that features more red. In addition, large areas of the Le Mans race sports car that is internally designated as 'R15 plus' will be kept in a purist black carbon-fiber look.
'We're happy that we were allowed to give the car such a progressive look,' say Markus Auerbach and Tobias Drews from the Audi Design Team. 'We wanted to add a dash of surprise when the Audi leaves the pits at Le Mans. We practically opened up the bodywork and are exposing the light-weight construction and its uncompromising technical development - and wîth a little rock 'n' roll for good measure.'
|Engine : 5.5 L., 10-cylinder|
Power: 590 hp
Torque: 774 ft-lbs
'The race at Le Castellet comes at a very early point in time for us and is nothing but a test in racing conditions,' stresses Ralf Jüttner, Technical Director of Audi Sport Team Joest. 'Even though it's a difficult logistical undertaking, we wanted to gather experiences wîth the R15 plus at a race as early as possible. Le Castellet offers the opportunity to do this.'
The 2010 version of the Audi R15 TDI completed a roll-out at the Audi test track in Neustadt at the beginning of March. The prototype was subsequently flown to the ÚSA for initial tests which primarily featured aerodynamics trials. A five-day endurance test followed at Sebring (Florida) at which about 5 500 kilometers were reeled off without any technical problems worth mentioning.
In Europe, the final set-up work wîth a view toward Le Mans is on the agenda. Further track tests will now be followed by the first run in a race at which the result will be of secondary importance for Audi though. 'Le Castellet will strictly be about gathering additional experience wîth the R15 plus,' emphasizes Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Úllrich. 'Racing conditions simply can't be simulated in normal track tests; that's why we're contesting a race at such an early stage.'
It is planned to field the R15 plus wîth chassis number 202. Audi Sport Team Joest has nominated Dindo Capello (Italy), Tom Kristensen (Denmark) and Allan McNish (Scotland) as drivers. 'However, we will only decide whether all three drivers will actually race at short notice,' says Dr. Wolfgang Úllrich.
Since Audi has performed several endurance tests for the Le Mans 24 Hours at Le Castellet in recent years, the team and drivers are intimately familiar wîth the circuit in southern France.
Audi, by the way, has very good memories of its most recent racing commitment at Le Castellet: in 1995, Frank Biela won the Touring Car World Cup there in the Audi A4 quattro against strong rivals.Source - Audi
R15 plus wins its race débutAudi Sport Team Joest wins Le Mans Series opener
- Clear victory for Dindo Capello and Allan McNish
- Important findings for the 24 Hours of Le Mans
INGOLSTADT, Germany, Apr 11, 2010 - The Audi R15 TDI, model year 2010 (internally labeled 'R15 plus') has won its race début at Le Castellet (France) and in doing so left a strong impression.
The technically further developed diesel racing sports car ran the entire distance without the smallest problem during the test race. On the opening lap of the 8-hour race Allan McNish overtook the Peugeot which had started from pole position in the hands of Frenchman Stéphane Sarrazin and on the third lap the Lola-Aston Martin of Stefan Mücke. From then on Allan McNish and teammate Dindo Capello did not relinquish the lead. At the checkered flag after 266 laps the two Audi drivers held a five-lap lead from the Lola-Aston Martin of defending champion Stefan Mücke, Harold Primat and Adrian Fernandez. The Oreca team Peugeot finished fourth after succumbing to a technical problem during the opening stages of the race.
The only unscheduled pit stop was made just seven minutes before the end of the race, when Audi Sport Team Joest switched to rain tires for safety reasons as rain began to fall.
Audi Sport Team Joest used the Le Mans Series 2010 season opener as preparation for the 24-hour race at Le Mans on 12/13 June. In the practice sessions on Friday and Saturday as well as Sunday morning's warm-up the team compared different set-up configurations before selecting a version which allowed Dindo Capello and Allan McNish to record constantly fast laps in the relatively low temperatures. The Audi R15 TDI was almost always the fastest car in the field throughout the eight hours and also set the fastest race lap.
Audi Sport Team Joest gained important knowledge for Le Mans during the victorious race at Le Castellet, which will now be evaluated by Audi Sport in Ingolstadt and which go into further fine tuning of the R15 plus.
Quotes after the race
Dr. Wolfgang Úllrich (Head of Audi Motorsport): 'It is impressive that Audi Sport has developed a prototype for a fourth consecutive time which was able to win its début race: after the R8, the R10 and the R15 now the R15 plus. Of course we are very happy that the R15 plus has won the Le Castellet 8 Hours in its test entry. But even more important is the fact that the car is already very fast and reliable. We did not have the slightest technical problem here and without the rain shower in the end we would have completed the whole distance without any unscheduled pit-stop. This success is a small milestone on the way to Le Mans and a first reward for the hard work of the previous weeks and months. But we know very well that there is still plenty of work to do until Le Mans.'
Dindo Capello (Audi R15 TDI #7): 'For sure it is nice to be back on the highest step of the podium – especially at the début of a new car. What makes me happy is that the changes we have done wîth the car – even the ones after the warm-up – worked quite well. Our next task is to make the R15 plus more consistent.'
Allan McNish (Audi R15 TDI #7): 'We have achieved three things: First of all we gave the R15 plus its début victory. This continues a tradition for Audi's début wins of new LMP1 cars. We won the race, which for the team and the drivers was very important especially after our difficulties last year. And for the engineers and the drivers it was very good experience for Le Mans. I think we ticked all the boxes and achieved our goals for this one.'
Ralf Jüttner (Technical Director Audi Sport Team Joest): 'This was a good race for us. After the Oreca-Peugeot had problems so early in the race, the pressure was missing a little bit. But we just tried to continue to go flat out. We did this for eight hours without any problems. But we've seen this weekend as well that we still have to learn a lot wîth the car – and this was the purpose of this test race. We've already completed a lot of kilometers wîth the R15 plus, but these have all been endurance tests. We just started to play wîth the car here at Le Castellet and this weekend has given us a lot of knowledge and a big step forward. Thanks to the team which has done a great job. This is a superb result we can build on.'
1 Capello/McNish (Audi R15 TDI) 266 laps in 8h 00m 36.415s
2 Primat/Mücke/Fernandez (Lola-Aston Martin) - 5 laps
3 Belicchi/Boullion/Smith (Lola-Rebellion) - 5 laps
4 Panis/Lapierre/Sarrazin (Peugeot) - 8 laps
5 Ayari/Andre/Duval (Oreca-AIM) - 8 laps
6 Ragues/Mailleux/Ickx (Lola-Aston Martin) - 10 laps
7 Leventis/Watts/Kane (Acura/Honda) - 16 laps
8 Moreau/Gulliaume/Hein (Pescarolo-Judd) - 16 laps
9 Erdos/Newton/Wallace (Lola-Honda) - 17 laps
10 Lahaye/Nicolet (Pescarolo-Judd) - 17 lapsSource - Audi
Audi R15 TDI attracts great interest- Thousands of fans turn out for Technical Scrutineering at Le Mans
- Audi drivers surrounded by spectators
- Rainy weather predicted for practice days
INGOLSTADT, Germany, Jun 8, 2010 - Audi Sport Team Joest has successfully taken the first formal hurdle at the 78th edition of the Le Mans 24 Hours: all three Audi R15 TDI cars passed the Technical Scrutineering at the Place des Jacobins in the center of the Western French city in front of thousands of spectators without any problems.
'It's great that so many fans turned out for the Technical Scrutineering on a normal workday,' said Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Úllrich. 'This shows the enormous enthusiasm for the race at Le Mans.'
Audi has been contesting the Le Mans 24 Hours since 1999 and uses the world's most important endurance race to test technological innovations. With a track record of eight victories, the brand wîth the four rings is the most successful automobile manufacturer in recent Le Mans history.
This year Audi aims to equalize its ranking in the race's honor roll wîth Ferrari and to celebrate its ninth victory. Only Porsche's track record reflects more exploits. 'We've done everything that's necessary to come well prepared to Le Mans,' says Dr. Úllrich. 'The squad is motivated and, unlike last year, well rested too. And we've got three strong driver teams all of whom are capable of clinching victory.'
On Monday, Dindo Capello, Tom Kristensen and Allan McNish were yet again the drivers to grant most of the wishes for autographs at the Place des Jacobins. In 2008, they had secured Audi's last victory at Le Mans to date in the Audi R10 TDI. But Timo Bernhard, Romain Dumas, Marcel Fässler, André Lotterer, Mike Rockenfeller and Benoît Treluyer, as well, were surrounded by fans and media representatives.
For the two practice days, rainy weather has been predicted at Le Mans. Weather conditions are expected to improve again for the race.Source - Audi
Audi brings a plus in efficiency to Le Mans- 'R15 plus' wîth numerous detailed optimizations
- Eight Audi victories in the past ten years
- Demo lap by an Audi e-tron before the race starts
INGOLSTADT, Germany, Jun 4, 2010 - The race is just around the corner: on the weekend of June 12/13 the Le Mans 24 Hours will be held for the 78th time. Like no other motorsport event, the world's most famous endurance race has always been instrumental in accelerating the technological development of the automobile.
Since 1999 Audi has been using the endurance classic in Western France to demonstrate 'Vorsprung durch Technik.' With a track record of eight overall victories in the past ten years, the brand wîth the four rings is the most successful one in recent Le Mans history, which has consistently been shaped by technical innovations.
Front-wheel drive, radial tires, disc brakes, halogen headlights, turbo-charging and even the windshield wiper have their origins in the world's toughest endurance race. The two most recent technological milestones were delivered by Audi: the combination of turbo-charging and direct injection (TFSI) proved to be unbeatable from 2001 to 2005. In 2006 Audi made worldwide headlines by clinching the first victory of a diesel-powered vehicle at Le Mans.
There is no other race at which there is as strong a focus on efficiency, sustainability, fuel economy and the associated reduction of CO2 emissions and innovative powertrain concepts as at Le Mans. 'This is exactly why Audi is involved in sports prototype racing,' explains Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Úllrich. 'Audi has a reputation of putting highly efficient automobiles on the road – the experience from Le Mans assists in this endeavor.'
In 2010 Audi is bringing a plus in efficiency to the grid: after its third-place finish last year, the first second-generation diesel race sports car, the Audi R15 TDI, was updated in numerous details and trimmed for even higher efficiency. Through numerous modifications the engineers from Audi Sport managed to maintain the power output of the 5.5-liter V10 TDI engine at last year's level despite regulatory restrictions. The complex aerodynamics of the LMP1 sports car that is internally designated as the 'R15 plus' has been completely revised and trimmed for top speed. The radiator package has been repositioned. The cockpit is now even more ergonomic than before. And the standard LED headlights from the Audi R8 high-performance sports car, which are used as additional lights on the 2010-specification Audi R15 TDI, now provide even more efficient lighting on the track at night.
Since March more than 40,000 test kilometers have been completed wîth the 'R15 plus' in order to leave nothing to chance. The tests included two endurance runs of 30 hours each, aerodynamics tests in the wind tunnel as well as on different race tracks and airfields, simulations on an artificially dirtied race track to simulate the soiling of the radiators, two test races in the Le Mans Series at Le Castellet and Spa-Francorchamps and a final test in Southern France at the end of May during which important final findings were obtained in the areas of aerodynamics, set-up and tire inflation pressures.
Better prepared than last year
'Due to accidents we fell behind in our preparations last year and weren't really well sorted at Le Mans,' explains Dr. Úllrich. 'This year, we're much better prepared. But that doesn't change the fact that we'll be competing against very strong rivals at Le Mans and that, as always during the 24 hours, a lot can happen. Still, our goal is clear: we want to bring the winner's trophy back to Ingolstadt and Neckarsulm.'
Starting at 3 p.m. on Saturday, June 12, this goal will primarily be in the hands of the three driver teams: Dindo Capello (Italy), Le Mans record winner Tom Kristensen (Denmark) and Allan McNish (Scotland), who achieved Audi's eighth Le Mans victory in 2008 and finished third in 2009, will take turns at the wheel of the 'number 7' Audi R15 TDI. 'Number 8' will be driven by three new signings: Marcel Fässler (Switzerland), André Lotterer (Germany) and Benoît Treluyer (France). The squad of 'number 9' is formed by the two Porsche 'factory' drivers Timo Bernhard (Germany) and Romain Dumas (France) plus DTM driver Mike Rockenfeller (Germany).
Audi Sport Team Joest has been on location at Le Mans since Wednesday (June 2). The drivers will arrive on Sunday. The public scrutineering of the three Audi R15 TDI cars wîth chassis numbers R15-202 (#7), R15-203 (#8) and R15-204 (#9) is scheduled for late Monday afternoon. In free practice from 4 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday the Audi R15 TDI cars will be completing their first laps on the 13.629-kilometer 'Circuit des 24 Heures' at which there are no testing opportunities outside the race week.
On Wednesday night (10 p.m. to midnight) and on Thursday night (7 p.m. to 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. to midnight) a total of three qualifying sessions will determine the grid positions, which at Le Mans tend to be of lesser importance, though. Before the race starts at 3 p.m. on Saturday the organizer, the Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO), will offer the spectators a glimpse of the future of the automobile. As part of this program, an Audi-e-tron electric vehicle will do a demo lap on the circuit.
'Downsizing, energy recovery and electric mobility, as well, will play a major part in future events of the Le Mans 24 Hours,' says Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Úllrich. 'I can't imagine a better platform for Audi than this unique race.'
From 2011 forward, new technical regulations prescribing smaller, even more efficient engines will come into force at Le Mans. Audi Sport has already started to work on the successor model of the current R15 TDI under the project name 'R18.'
Quotes before the Le Mans 24 Hours
Dr. Wolfgang Úllrich (Head of Audi Motorsport): 'At Le Mans, efficiency is very important. And high efficiency is one of the secrets of our road cars as well. That's why the type of motorsport which Audi is engaged in at Le Mans is an excellent fit. In endurance prototype sport we can field new technologies and test them for production vehicles at a very early stage. The findings can not only be converted into power output but also into higher fuel economy and thus lower emissions. Good examples of this are TFSI technology, which we successfully used for the first time at Le Mans in 2001, our years-long know-how in light-weight design and the TDI, which we brought up to power and torque levels at Le Mans in 2006 that didn't seem to be realistic before. Our aim is to equalize last year's result again wîth a victory. We've been working very hard and wîth a lot of concentration on this aim during the past few months.'
Ralf Jüttner (Technical Director Audi Sport Team Joest): 'Our preparations went well, everything worked out as planned. Consequently, the pre-race phase was clearly more relaxed than it was last year, which will hopefully benefit us at Le Mans. This year, everything was finished as early as it should be before a race at Le Mans. During our most recent test we again found a few things so that we're now traveling westward wîth optimism. On Wednesday and Thursday we'll concentrate on the race as we usually do. The additional practice time will no doubt be helpful but has already been totally filled wîth planned activities. We've still got enough on our agenda that we want to do and have to do.'
Dindo Capello (Audi R15 TDI #7): 'Last year, the compromise between setup and aerodynamics was our main problem. That was changed and the improvements are notable. The engine specialists have done a great job too. Despite the restrictions we've got almost the same power as last year and are not suffering that much from the rule changes in this area. I think the R15 TDI accelerates even better this year. ‘Well done' to the engineers: they really did a superb job this winter – by the way that goes for the design too, which surprised many people. I received a large number of e-mails and letters from motorsport fans who are just as thrilled wîth the new design as I am.'
Tom Kristensen (Audi R15 TDI #7): 'Audi has made an important step from the R15 to the R15 plus. The ‘plus' says that the R15 TDI has been updated in all areas in terms of efficiency and performance. Take the headlights for example. That may sound trivial but in a 24-hour race they're extremely important. And obviously there's the efficiency of the engine, which has become more powerful but uses less fuel now. Aerodynamics has been improved to generate enough downforce in the turns but without too much aerodynamic drag on the straights. The interaction between the suspension and the Michelin tires has been optimized too. Simply everything has been scrutinized and optimized so that the ‘plus' will help us achieve our big aim at Le Mans.'
Allan McNish (Audi R15 TDI #7): 'What the fans will get to see at Le Mans? Hopefully, an Audi victory! I think it'll be a very close and exciting race. At Le Castellet and Spa-Francorchamps we saw that we made some good steps wîth our car. I believe the improvements will pay off at Le Mans more than on any other race track because the further development was strictly focused on Le Mans. We understand the R15 TDI much better than we did last year although it's again a pretty new car. I'm sure Peugeot will be very strong again. They've done a lot of endurance testing and are still pretty fast. As last year's winners and winners at Spa, I see them in the role of the favorites. But they can count on us to put up a fierce fight against them.'
Marcel Fässler (Audi R15 TDI #8): 'I'm contesting Le Mans for the fifth time but this year is my first one as a ‘factory' driver of an LMP1 race car. During the tests wîth Audi Sport I had good opportunities to familiarize myself wîth the Audi R15 TDI. It's clear that as a newcomer to the team I've still got a few things to learn. I'll closely watch how Tom Kristensen, Dindo Capello and Allan McNish will approach this race. It's a very good feeling to compete for a ‘factory' team because such an environment makes a lot of things easier. At Audi they leave nothing to chance. During the tests the car showed on numerous occasions that we can drive it for 24 hours without any problem. The teams I used to drive for in the past simply weren't capable of undertaking such an effort.'
André Lotterer (Audi R15 TDI #8): 'Driving a sports car is still new to me, even though I was able to catch a whiff of sports car air at my Le Mans debut in the Audi R10 TDI last year. I'm still learning new things. But during the tests everything went pretty well and from Formula Nippon in Japan I'm used to driving fast cars. That's why I immediately felt comfortable in the Audi R15 TDI. It's not easy to drive a Le Mans car at the limit. The team tries to make the car as quick as possible on the straights. That makes it a little more difficult to handle it in the turns. But that's our job.'
Benoît Treluyer (Audi R15 TDI #8): 'Le Mans is very important for me: for one, I'm French and for the other, I was born just 50 kilometers away from the circuit. As a child, I couldn't imagine how anyone could drive so fast in such a thing – and even less to be doing that myself some day. I'm proud of this because it turns me into a child again. And my family is proud of me too. Many people come to Le Mans to support me. That's a certain pressure, but I can handle it. Obviously, we want to win the race and finish at the very top of the podium, but we're new in the team and still have to learn a lot. The car is very good, especially on the straights, which is particularly important at Le Mans. For the turns we've got to find the best balance in practice.'
Timo Bernhard (Audi R15 TDI #9): 'There's no doubt about it: I'm lòòking forward to the race. It gives me the opportunity to clinch another exploit in my career. Principally, you've got to tackle Le Mans like any other race: professionally and concentrated. Nevertheless, Le Mans is a different race in many respects, particularly because it covers such a long distance. For me, it's still amazing that Le Mans is a 24-hour sprint today because the cars have become so much more reliable over the past decades. In the past, it seemed to be more of a question of finishing or not. Today, it's a question of having the speed or not. The demands made on ‘man and material' are pretty tough and both have to be at the highest level.'
Romain Dumas (Audi R15 TDI #9): 'Everyone knows the Le Mans 24 Hours. They're not just one of the biggest races in France but a world-famous endurance race. As a French driver, you're in the spotlight there in a particular way. And as part of the Audi ‘factory' team, you can only aim to win. The engineers from Audi Sport have worked incredibly hard to improve the car and to create the R15 plus. When you know as a driver how much energy has been put into improving your performance, this strengthens your confidence in the car and your desire to achieve good results. I'm convinced that we're better prepared this year than we were last year. Our endurance tests went well.'
Mike Rockenfeller (Audi R15 TDI #9): 'Even in the cockpit of the Audi R15 TDI a lot has changed compared to last year. We optimized a lot of things like the positions of the switches. They're easier to reach now and there's a better overview of everything. It's not a really different world while you're driving but detailed improvements have been made everywhere on the R15 TDI which will hopefully have a positive effect on our lap times at Le Mans – and that was our aim wîth the R15 plus: to simply improve in every respect. We did a lot of work on the lights, for example. Better vision makes it easier for us to drive even faster at night. And another goal was to be a just a little bit faster on the straights too. I think we've managed to achieve this.'
Source - Audi
Current info and interim reports from Le Mans are available on the 'Audi Sport' iPhone-App which can be downloaded free of charge from Apple's App Store ... Audi is again providing the Official Cars at the Le Mans 24 Hours this year. The fleet consists of six Audi Q7, five Audi Q5, three Audi R8 V10, three Audi RS 6 Avant, two Audi TTRS, two Audi S4 Avant and two Audi RS 5 cars ... The two Audi DTM drivers Oliver Jarvis and Timo Scheider are contesting Le Mans for the first time. Jarvis drives an Audi R10 TDI of the private Kolles team, Scheider a GT2 Porsche ... The Kolles team is independently fielding two Audi R10 TDI cars.
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