• Dec 17, 2006

Automotive enthusiasts (racing fans in particular) and environmental lobbyists don't always see eye-to-eye. Make that seldom, if ever. But greener motorsports is something over which we can definitely sit down with our compatriots at sister site AutoblogGreen. In fact, we'd go as far to say that it's the one thing that could stand to keep automobile racing relevant in the modern era, and we'll applaud any series, team or supplier that moves the cause forward.

Audi, then, is a particular favorite, for their milestone achievement of fielding the diesel-powered R10 in endurance racing series and events – and winning, sweeping the field, in fact, despite the self-imposed oil-burning handicap. But the boys at Ingolstadt aren't about the rest on their proverbial laurels, they're pushing forward, together with their sponsors over at Shell. They've announced that at next year's 24 Hours of Le Mans, they'll not only be racing on diesel, they'll be racing on biodiesel! Don't expect to see Audi engineers rummaging through the trash bins behind the local greasy-spoon, though. Audi will be using a synthetic derivative of plant-based oil (though we have no idea how something synthetic can be derived from something natural) produced by a subsidiary of team sponsor Shell.

Now that the announcement has been made, it seems such an obvious move, but then, all great developments seem so simple once they're done. Our hats go off to Audi and Shell for this, and we'll be looking forward to Le Mans next year.

[Source: German Car Blog]



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  • 13 Comments
      • 8 Years Ago
      "self-imposed oil-burning handicap"

      Ha. That's hilarious. ACO gave them 50% more displacement, twice the boost, a fuel tank containing more energy than the gas cars, and then to top it off, added 140lbs to the competing gas cars so the R10 wouldn't be massively overweight.

      What was the handicap, exactly?

      As long as the R10 can go 2-3 more laps per tank (and those are long laps at La Sarthe, other cars go only 14 laps) they'll have no problem winning Le Mans. The R8 in the FSI days went 2 laps more than the other cars, setting a modern distance record. ACO responded by making their tank smaller, then later limiting the boost and making the tank even smaller.

      Does anyone know if Audi is running A/C this year? In ACO's infinite wisdom they decided everyone has to run A/C or face a performance penalty. It was assumed all the open-top cars would be facing the performance penalty. But it was rumored Audi was going to run A/C on the open top car anyway, just to avoid the penalty.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Wait a minute.

      One poster commented that the diesel got twice the displacement and more energy content with the fuel. But didn't the diesel have the same size tank as the gassers (originally), and couldn't it go farther on that same amount of fuel, with that larger engine? Yes--Gas-power proponents are complaining because diesel fuel has 10% more energy than gasoline; not because the R10 had more fuel capacity. What a lame complaint. My New Jetta TDI gets 44% better fuel economy than the standard, gas Jetta. Is this because diesel fuel has more energy? Why sure--that is part of it--but that doesn't mean I have to reduce my fuel tank by 1.4 gallons to see which car makes more sense for transportation. That is ludicrous. Higher energy fuel is part of the diesel advantage, and is why companies like Audi want to show this advantage. It doesn't make sense to take away diesel's inherant advantages, and then say--okay! Let's race! Next, they'll be asking that diesel teams add artificial devices to increase pumping losses, and to reduce their compression ratios to match that of gassers.

      In other words, the diesel allegedly has larger displacement and yet, goes farther with the same amount of fuel. The other teams call this unfair, but they can't make up their minds whether it is unfair because the engine is larger or because it is more economical. Aren't these points contradictory. I call it diesel justice.

      Biodiesel will even everything up, because BD roughly equals the energy content of gasoline, and they should be able to increase tank size. I guess since the Le Mans series will account for fuel energy, they might as well use a renewable fuel that has less energy, since they will be able to make up that loss in fuel capacity.

      I don't think you'll see the same thing with ethanol, however, because Le Mans has already stated that they will limit the fuel tank size as a safety concern. Ethanol is so inefficient, they would need a larger-than-allowable tank to equal the energy of gasoline or biodiesel in the standard tank size.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I wish Audi great success with this BioDiesel state-of-the-art racer. BioDiesel is clearly the best "Bridge Fuel" until we can get to hydrogen on a mass scale - but the transition to hydrogen will take decades. In th emean time BioDiesel, combined with electric hybrid technology, offers a way we can increase milage by about 300% or better. And, BioDiesel lets us do this without any masive change required in fueling infrasturcture.

      I can see future fuel pumps at fuel stations where the customer selects the percentage of "Bio" in the BioDiesel full (B20, B30, B50 etc.) based on his car and the driving conditions (temp. etc).

      This can happen now with a vigorous move to BioDiesel and tax incentives applied to encourage BioDiesel and discourage gasoline.

      Come on Audi - Win!
      • 8 Years Ago
      Oh boy, the smell of french fries wafting out of the back end of the lead car.

      My friend's Honda minivan has been converted to run on biodiesel. We call it the french fry mobile. Not only does it smell good, total cost for fuel (he converts used restaurant oil to biodiesel himself at home) is about $10/month.

      This should help Audi cut some costs from their racing program....

      • 8 Years Ago
      That is awesome. The visibility and viability of Diesel got a huge boost when Audi trounced the field with the R10. Diesel is no longer pejoratively saddled as "noisy and slow" as the eerily quiet R10s destroyed their competition by laps.

      They can only do better by running on renewable fuels. Kudos to Audi.

      Now where's my TDI powered TT Roadster?

      --chuck

      • 8 Years Ago
      @15: this is not esterified fatty acid biodiesel, it's BTL synfuel. The biomass is rendered into syngas (CO + H2), which is then converted to diesel by the Fischer Tropsch process. Like any FT synfuel, it's a high quality, high cetane fuel that does not reflect characteristics of the feedstock. This year the R10 used a fuel blend including synfuel from natural gas (GTL). This type of BTL is more expensive to make than the stuff made from oil or fat, but can use any bio feedstock and is independent of the feedstock used.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Audi is so bored now that it is resorting to challenging itself. What's next? "Hmmm... Wolfgang, what if ve ran ze car on methane vapors? Go and round up a pile of bullsheet!"
      Really, at this point, they are just showing off. Does anyone expect them NOT to win? If Peugeot does it right, their diesel racer may offer competition, but Audi has the jump on everybody.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I'm looking forward to audi running this fuel as well, unlike most car companies, you actually see a trickle down effect from Audi to VAG in regards to their race technology, ie FSI or the V12 in the Q7 or V8 in the RS4/R8... mmm... trickle down and winning races... nice.

      • 8 Years Ago
      ORLY, what TDI engine shares this power-plant's unique features again? The subtle ones like being made of aluminum, 90 degree cylinder-bank, highest ignition pressure of any Audi engine, ever... or Baretzky’s assertion that there’s ‘never been anything remotely comparable’?
      • 8 Years Ago
      Looking forward to Audi running this fuel. They will be challanged by the Peugeot diesel in 07. Should be nice. Face the facts, the Audi R8 destroyed the competiton with superior fuel economy and endurance with its FSI gasoline engine, the same teams were crying back then as well.
      • 8 Years Ago
      What a fantastic marketing move!!!

      They ruined Peugeot's plans:
      First, Peugeot announced their diesel program first, but then came a year too late; now they can't even challenge Audi for the best Diesel race-car, because Audi moved along to another thing; and the media will no care for Peugeot, because a Diesel race-car already lost it's novelty appeal!

      Brilliant move!!!
      • 8 Years Ago
      It's actually trickle-up from the road cars this time around.
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