Saturday, December 11, 2010

Audi R18 Le Mans

Right on schedule, Audi has pulled the sheets off its next-generation Le Mans prototype. The company hasn't worked with a clamshell since 1999, and we're guessing is has more than a little to do with Peugeot's 2009 Le Mans win. Audi used a single-piece construction carbon fiber monocoque to keep weight down and increase stiffness, and those epic all-LED headlights are the first make their way to Le Mans.

While Audi is planning to campaign a total of three R18 racers at the 2011 Le Mans race this summer, the vehicle's first appearance will be at the six hours of Spa on April 24.

Previous Audi prototype racers, from the R8 to the most recent R15 TDI, have been open-cockpit affairs. But Audi is aiming for its tenth 24 Hours of Le Mans victory with a new direction, due in part to a significant reduction in engine displacement mandated for the race in 2011. A single-piece carbon fiber monocoque saves weight and improves stiffness, while new all-LED headlights are a first for an Audi race car. In daylight running mode, the headlights project a "1" to intimidate competitors and signify Audi's past victories.

Audi's new Le Mans LMP1 racecar will be a closed-cockpit model, like rival Peugeot's. The company's R18 debuted earlier today in Ingolstadt and is the key to Audi's bid for a 10th Le Mans 24 win.
Less powerful engines, according to new Le Mans rules, means the new car will rely more on aerodynamic efficiency, thus the importance of a roof. According to the press release, the LEDs of the daytime running lights form the shape of a "1," recalling Audi's historic brand logo

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