Audi has unveiled its latest sportscar which Britain’s Allan McNish hopes will enable him to score his third and the German manufacturer’s 10th Le Mans 24 Hours endurance race victory next June.
Audi aims to continue its string of victories at the Le Mans 24 Hours with a completely new R18 prototype displayed in Ingolstadt on the 10th December 2010 .
Le Mans 24h have reduced the engine size allowed for the endurance race and Audi have opted for a 3.7-liter V6 TDI unit, mated to a new 6 speed gearbox which has been developed along with the smaller capacity engine.
The carbon fiber monocoque of the R18 does not consist of two halves but features a single-component design. This saves weight and increases stiffness.
The chassis and aerodynamics package contains a lot of know-how from the R8, the R10 TDI and the R15 TDI whereas the fitting of identically sized front and rear wheels is new to an Audi Le Mans sports car. This configuration allows a more balanced weight distribution.
The R18’s headlights, which are the first to completely consist of LEDs with optimized amount of light, are a technical highlight. The new generation of headlights was developed in close cooperation between Audi Sport and the Technical Development (TE) division of AUDI AG and by using at Le Mans, will be prepared for future use in production vehicles. Audi’s light designers had the chance to make their mark on the development as well: The LEDs of the daytime light form the shape of a “1” which is intended to inspire associations with Audi’s historic brand logo.
The development of the new Audi R18 started in mid 2009. The V6 TDI engine has been running on the dynamometers since the summer of 2010. The R18, with Allan McNish at the wheel, completed its first test on a racetrack at the end of November.
The racing debut of the Audi R18 is planned for the Spa-Francorchamps (Belgium) 6 Hours on May 8. 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.