Audi R15 TDI – Click above for high-res image gallery

At some point in the coming months, the Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO), the organizing body for the the 24 hours of Le Mans, is expected to release a new set of technical regulations for the prototype classes. Among the changes the ACO is likely to aim for are improved fuel efficiency as well as a continued emphasis on alternative drive and fuel technologies. The ACO and its partners at the American Le Mans Series have been more open to alternatives than any other major racing series. The ALMS, in fact, is the only place where you can find race cars running on E10, cellulosic E85, diesel and hybrid powertrains.

For four years, Audi has been at the forefront of this arena with its R10 TDI and, more recently, its R15 TDI. Audi is expected to create an all-new car next year for these new rules and will likely stay with diesel. However, instead of the R10's V12 or the R15's V10 engines, the new car is expected to use a twin turbocharged V6 diesel. The car may also feature a kinetic energy recovery system (KERS). Audi will be launching its first production hybrid in the Q5 in 2011 but it's unknown if Audi would use a battery electric hybrid system or an electro-mechanical flywheel like the new Porsche 911 GT3 R hybrid. Audi is unlikely to say anything publicly until after the ACO announces the new rules package.




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