2010 Audi R15 Plus
2010 Audi R15 Plus – Click above for high-res image gallery

The funny thing about a race series like Le Mans is that as spectators, we only see a small fraction of the action when we watch events like Petit Le Mans or the 24 Hours of Le Mans. While the fender-to-fender fracas is plenty exciting, it takes an army of engineers frantically innovating and working to beat deadlines to carry the checkered flag each season. And that's exactly why we're so excited about this juicy little bit of rumor from Fortitude. From what we understand, Audi may be looking to retire its R15 Plus in favor of a new closed-cockpit R18.

According to Fortitude, the information comes courtesy of Le Mans Live Blog, which is operated by the fine people at Michelin. Since the tire maker is a partner in Audi motorsport, there's a good chance that this rumor is more than wild speculation. If Le Mans Live Blog is to be believed, the new machine will get an official unveil on December 10, though there are few details beyond that.

Audi has notoriously rejected the notion of a closed-cockpit Le Mans racer for years, even as the competition adopted the design to reduce driver fatigue and aerodynamic drag. But after Peugeot managed to knock Audi off of its Le Mans throne in 2009 with its closed-cockpit 908 HDi FAP, the German racing team's tune changed in a hurry.

Regardless of what the R18 looks like when it debuts, we'll be interested to see what Audi brings to the table for next year's race. With Peugeot once again looking for blood, it's bound to be a good one.


Related GalleryLe Mans 2010: The Race

[Sources: Le Mans Live via Fortitude]