Audi R15 TDI - Click above for high-res image gallery
The Audi vs. Peugeot endurance racing battle will continue next month at Road Atlanta as the German team finally confirmed it will bring the R15 TDI back to America. Peugeot announced several weeks ago that it would run its Le Mans-winning 908 HDI at both the Petit Le Mans and Laguna Seca. So far Audi has only committed to the 10-hour race in Georgia. Audi Sport Team Joest will be running the two R15s for the German automaker.
The diesel-powered racers opened up the season battling at the 12 hours of Sebring with the R15 grabbing a debut victory. From there, the Franco-Prussian war moved on to the 24 Hours of Le Mans where Peugeot finally came through with a win after three years of trying.
Audi motorsports boss Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich blamed a lack of testing for the team's failure in France this year and plans to have the team test at Road Atlanta the week prior to the race next month. Hopefully, Audi will stick around for the California race, as well. Full press release after the jump, and thanks to all for the tips!
Audi contests "Petit Le Mans" race in the USA
* Audi Sport Team Joest to compete with two Audi R15 TDI cars
* Capello/McNish and Luhr/Werner as driver teams
* Test race with sights set on Le Mans 2010
Ingolstadt – For the first time since its victorious debut at Sebring in March, the technologically innovative Audi R15 TDI will again compete in an endurance race in the USA: On September 26, Audi Sport Team Joest will contest the 1000-mile "Petit Le Mans" race, which is part of the American Le Mans Series, at Road Atlanta (Georgia) with two cars.
The two diesel-powered racing sports cars will be driven by Dindo Capello (Italy) and Allan McNish (Scotland) as well as the two Germans Lucas Luhr and Marco Werner. DTM racer Mike Rockenfeller is planned to be the team's reserve driver.
"The race at Road Atlanta already marks the first part of our preparation for the 24 Hours of Le Mans 2010," explains Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. "We want to use it as an opportunity for our engineers to learn even more about the new Audi R15 TDI in direct competition with strong rivals. A lot of things can be simulated on test rigs and in track tests. But nothing can replace the experience gathered in actual racing events."
At the same time, Audi Sport will support the market launch of TDI technology in North America by participating in the popular "Petit Le Mans" race. The Audi Q7 TDI 3.0 has been available in the USA since the beginning of the year and the Audi A3 TDI 2.0 will arrive at U.S. dealerships in fall.
>From 2006 to 2008, Audi dominated the American Le Mans Series with the revolutionary R10 TDI and won the champion's title in the LMP1 class three times in a row. The R10 TDI celebrated a total of 18 victories in the American Le Mans Series and thus paved the way for introducing TDI technology on the market in North America.
The R15 TDI successor model, the first second-generation diesel-powered racing sports car, won the 12-hour race at Sebring (Florida) – the season opener of this year's American Le Mans Series – at its debut race in March 2009 right away. At the 24-hour race at Le Mans, however, the brief experience with the new R15 TDI took its toll on Audi Sport Team Joest: After five consecutive Le Mans victories, Audi had to settle for third place at the French endurance classic this year.
"We're convinced that we weren't able to fully exploit the potential of the R15 TDI at Le Mans," says Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. "At Road Atlanta, we'll have the opportunity to test on Sunday before the race so that we should be in a better position than we were at Le Mans. Despite the strong competition by Acura/Honda, Peugeot, Mazda, Oreca and other prototype teams we figure on having good chances of fighting for victory, as we did over the past few years."
Audi will contest the "Petit Le Mans" race for as much as the tenth time this year and has been unbeaten there so far. The Audi R8 won six times, the Audi R10 TDI three. Now, the plan is for the Audi R15 TDI to continue this impressive string of exploits.