Ever since the Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO) announced the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup early this year, Audi has remained non-committal about participating. Actually, Audi has been non-committal about everything this year except for the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Now, more than two months after coming away with its ninth victory in the French race, Audi has announced that it will run the R15+ TDI in the three-continent series starting next month at Silverstone in the UK.
After the British race, the diesels from Audi will join the Peugeot 908s for the trek to Road Atlanta for the Petit Le Mans before finishing with a six-hour run at Zhuhai in China in November. Audi has stuck with sports car racing because it is the only major international motorsports venue that allows cars to run a variety of different fuels and drivetrain technologies. The R8 was the debut platform for turbocharged direct-injected gasoline engines before Audi introduced its TFSI engines in road cars and the R10 and R15 have allowed Audi to demonstrate the performance and efficiency advantages of its diesel engines.
In 2011, the ACO is will officially allowing hybrid power-plants. The American Le Mans Series currently has four different fuels in use: E10, cellulosic E85, biobutanol and, of course, diesel. The flywheel-equipped Porsche 911 GT3R hybrid will also be running at the Petit Le Mans.