• Feb 17th 2009 at 6:58PM
  • 31
Click above to enlarge

It really is a shame that Audi has pulled out of the American and European Le Mans Series, choosing only to run its new R15 TDI Le Mans Prototype racer at this year's 12 Hours of Sebring in March and 24 Hours of Le Mans in June. All that money, effort and time to develop a replacement for one of the winningest cars in all of motorsports seems like a waste on just two races, even if they are the sport's biggest.

This image released by Audi shows the design of the new R15 TDI ahead of its track debut in March. The new diesel-powered prototype car is much more radical compared to the R10 that it replaces than that car was to the R8. The most noteworthy difference is a new front end with an elevated nose that features two supports extending down to the pavement-scraping front chin spoiler. There's clearly some F1 influence up front, though Audi opted not to switch to a closed cockpit design like Peugeot uses for its 908 HDi.

The new R15 TDI will makes its race debut on March 21 at the 12 Hours of Sebring where its predecessors, the R10 and R8, have won eight times. Two cars will be campaigned using the same driver teams as last year: defending Le Mans winners Dindo Capello (Italy), Tom Kristensen (Denmark) and Allan McNish (Scotland) in one car and Lucas Luhr, Mike Rockenfeller and Marco Werner in the second. With Acura now competing against Audi in the LMP1 class and Aston Martin joining the fray in June at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, we reiterate our sentiment that it's a damn shame the R15 TDI will only be campaigned twice.

[Source: Audi]


Two new Audi R15 TDI at Sebring opener
- Race debut of new diesel sports car on 21 March
- 12-hour race in Florida is stern test for Le Mans
- Audi Sport Team Joest with proven driver teams

INGOLSTADT, Germany, Feb 10, 2009 - The eagerly awaited first race of the new diesel sports car from AUDI AG draws ever closer: Audi Sport Team Joest contests the notorious 12-hour race at Sebring, Florida on 21 March with two Audi R15 TDI. The US endurance classic will act as stern test and dress rehearsal for the 24 Hours of Le Mans on 13 /14 June 2009.

The new Audi R15 TDI is packed with numerous technically innovative detail solutions and differs significantly from its predecessor model the R10 TDI which was undefeated at Le Mans. The first tests with the new LMP1 prototype have been successfully completed.

"So far the R15 TDI has performed as we expected," explains Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. "Now it must also prove itself in race conditions. Sebring is a particularly hard race and is therefore perfectly suited to reveal even the smallest of weaknesses."

Proven drivers sit at the wheel of the two new prototypes. One driver line-up is formed by defending Le Mans winners Dindo Capello (Italy), Tom Kristensen (Denmark) and Allan McNish (Scotland). The Germans Lucas Luhr, Mike Rockenfeller and Marco Werner take turns at the wheel of the sister R15 TDI. Audi Sport Team Joest competed last year at Sebring in this formation.

Every new Le Mans Prototype from AUDI AG celebrated its race debut at the race track in the heart of Florida. In Audi's first ever sports car race in 1999
Audi Sport Team Joest claimed a podium position first time out with the Audi R8R. A year later the Audi R8 triumphed on its debut at Sebring. On the premiere of the R10 TDI in 2006 Audi landed the first victory worldwide for a diesel powered sports car in an important endurance race.

The brand with the four rings has won the 12-hour race at Sebring, which also forms the opening race of the American Le Mans Series (ALMS), a total of eight times, the last time in 2007.

I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.

    • 1 Second Ago
      • 6 Years Ago
      I'm bummed they will also not be taking part in Petit Le Mans. Thats like, one of the biggest races of the year!
        • 6 Years Ago
        If Peugeot enters PLM... my bet is that Audi does as well.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Lets have a group prayer then
      • 6 Years Ago
      Is it smaller? What engine is in it?
        • 6 Years Ago

        This release is certainly lacking on the details.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Let 'em build whatever they want, fastest car wins.
      • 6 Years Ago
      why not the LS2LS7? said:

      "non-Diesels LMP1 cars had a 3% restrictor cut."

      Actually that was only for GT1 homologated engines (aka so far only Aston Martin's V12). One could say the "bait" that was originally given was taken away now. No changes to other P1 petrol engines.

      "If there were actually a level field, the R10 never would have even showed up to race."

      Question is what is a level field? With so many different configurations and now different fuels, trying to balance the power output is a must. (Unless if the rules are something like Group C fuel formula was... which btw would work just fantastically right now, especially in future; regarding hybrids - just put a limit on energy.)

      Taking this literally, the fact that cars can have 6.0L petrols but only 4.0L turbos is not level playing field either... I see no one complaining about that.

      Regarding your nickname, apparently you're a big block fan. I prefer the sound of that too compared to the lack of sound of the diesels... but guess what? Limit for GT1 homologated engines in P1 cars was upped to 7 litres (last year 6 litres). I wonder what manufacturer has a such engine... but they didn't show up for obvious financial reasons. If they did, would you say they were favoured?

      And I actually think the mistake was already done when diesels were given such a huge displacement. But in the end the real problem was not that Audi literally dictated the regs, but the fact that there were no other manufacturers opposing that and suggesting better rules.

      But which is odd that 2011 regs include change to P2-sized engines... added with dieses, meaning: 3.7 litre diesels vs. 3.4L NA max 8 cyl petrols and 2.0L max 6 cyl (only a single charger). Of course the balance can be always be "fixed" with restrictors, but to me that sounds like making the same mistake again.
      • 6 Years Ago
      So much bickering, Imust be getting old.
      When will they have a race, without any restrictions at all???
      and then you will see some serious action. everything is ,this rule and that rule, it gets so boring to be a slave puppet to someone elses idea of what racing should be.
      YEAH!! I know,, I know, some one could get hurt.

      40yrs ago i made a statement,
      motor racing is very simple, you push to the edge of death, but you do not go over the edge, the guys that win know where that edge is, by reading microseconds ahead of time.
      today its called parallel universe and Quantum physics, it has always exsisted, but never understood.
      where will racing be in 50yrs.

      how that for a 75 yr old quack.

      • 6 Years Ago
      The black and silver makes it look mean and I like it! Imagine blasting down a straight at 6:00pm with this thing on your rear end. Then imagine at 6:01 when you see it driving away into the night!
        • 6 Years Ago
        Man, those are some bright stickers! Maybe your eyes are just stickers?
        • 6 Years Ago
        That car will have a tough time zooming off into the night given that the headlights are stickers.

        Presumably the final car will be a bit different.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Wow.. I want an R15 for my Hwy280 commute


      would two-thirds off my drive time *sigh*
      • 6 Years Ago
      • 6 Years Ago
      Normally, I think LeMans-type cars look a bit ugly, perhaps "functionally cool" at best. This one, however, just looks GOOD! =)
        • 6 Years Ago
        @ Azzo

        Don't forget the new Aston Martin LMP car with that gorgeous Gulf paintjob.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I agree that the prototypes are generally hard on the eyes. My friend bought a used Lola and even though he has a cool paint job it hasn't gotten any prettier. But I think this Audi can only be called platypus.
        • 6 Years Ago
        You thought the Audi R8 & R10 were a bit ugly? You think the Acura, Porsche, Zytec, etc were a bit ugly?? Confusing "prototypes" with Grand American DAYTONA PROTOTYPES???

        How far back do the ugly prototype cars go back for you? The last two Peugeots have looked amazing. The Jaguar XJR12 & 14 do nothing for you either?? Can we add the Toyota GTP & GT One cars to the ugly list.

        How far back do you rank LeMans style cars "ugly"??? Sorry, but I obviously violently DISAGREE with your opinion but you are welcome to it. Glad you like the R15.... I think? :)
        • 6 Years Ago
        HotRodz: Which Lola are you referring to? Some of the P1/2 cars had odd looking faces. The Lola B2K/10 had a boat-looking front nose, & center mounted headlight

        Most modern prototypes have been beautiful form studies, almost F1 cars with bodywork. Form follows function, but check this list & tell me how many "ugly" cars you spot... IMO, not many


        Anyone looking for MORE than one image of the Audi R15 go here:


        If the link doesn't work... just get to the site & navigate to the story +images

      • 6 Years Ago
      the new Audi is bad azz!!!!

      Best of luck in the races.
      • 6 Years Ago
      i dont see why they spend all that money to make a new car to only race 2 races.
        • 6 Years Ago
        They race in Europe, too.
        • 6 Years Ago
        It was designed to race full season in ALMS too... but then the economy facked up plans.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Bad economy... plus Audi Sport is running a R8 in GT3 + continuing their DTM efforts. They will be back in 2010 (especially if Peugeot stays in P1)
      • 6 Years Ago
      I don't care if Audi doesn't play for Freedom Fries at LeMans....the stupid rulemakers just kept penalizing the best car and team for winning!
      A level field is just that....I noticed that the other guys got better notwithstanding Audi's penalties/weight, inlet/boost restrictions, etc.

        • 6 Years Ago
        ACO rules are complex because they allow different types of engines. There are changes in restrictor size/boost depending on type of engine and different specifications. For example, a 2 valve engine will get a bigger restrictor than a 4 valve engine, same with production based engines versus full on racing engines.
        • 6 Years Ago
        @ whynoLS blabla

        I am sick of the BS you claim....
        NOT AUDI is allowed to use bigger air restrictors and every other BS you claim...everyone company allowed to use it if they like!!!!!!!!!!

        If a company see a advantage to race with petrol powered LMP1 against diesel powered Peugot and Audi they have to take the given FIA LeMans rules.
        BTW no one beat Audi as they raced LeMans with petrol powered engines... it is not a unfair technical rule advantage why Audi is so successfull at LeMans, they simple have the best package of car, driver, team, technic, strategy and of course what everyone need at 24h racing a good portion of luck.. Thats the reason why they are the most successfull LeMans team of the last decade..

        • 6 Years Ago
        Air means combustion. Combustion means power. If you get 60% more air, what do you think happens?

        40% larger displacement
        60% more air (at the same draw)
        more than twice the boost
        weight problems semi-mitigated by getting a rules change (later reversed)
        10% larger fuel cell initially (meaning about 25% more energy in the tank). later changed to about 10% smaller than gas, meaning 5% more energy in the tank)

        It's difficult to work out a way in which this means Audi is more disadvantaged than the other LMP1 cars under ACO rules.

        Apparently the air restrictor were cut 10% and boost cut 6.5% in 2009 in the Diesels. non-Diesels LMP1 cars had a 3% restrictor cut. LMP2 cars had a 10% cut in restrictor size.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Audi is allowed double the boost and has an air restrictor that allows 60% more air through than any of the non-Diesels. The only weight penalty Audi received was of their own making, they couldn't make the minimum weight for their class, so the convinced the ACO to increase the minimum weight for the class. The ACO later reversed this, which you may view as an Audi penalty somehow.

        If there were actually a level field, the R10 never would have even showed up to race.
        • 6 Years Ago
        If Batman ever wants to race at Le Mans, he just found his car!
        • 6 Years Ago
        All P1 cars have the same amount of energy in the fuel tank, that's why the diesel cars have a smaller tank.
        • 6 Years Ago
        It seems the argument here is over which set of rule changes is more unfair, the former or the latter.

        I think they are both unfair.

        While I would say that rule changes are costly and discriminatory to teams, it hasn't seemed to hurt the popularity of the sport.
    • Load More Comments
    Share This Photo X