Two years after its racing debut at the 2006 Twelve Hours of Sebring, the Audi R10 TDI is making its first ever visit to the classic Spa-Francorchamps track in Belgium. The R10s are running in the European Le Mans Series for the first time this year and Spa will be a whole new challenge for Audi. The length of the Belgian track has been cut by more than half to 4.4miles from its original 9.3miles but it still remains one of the most challenging tracks in the world. The diesel-powered Audis will again be taking on the dominant Peugeot 908 HDis but the R10s are fueled by a GTL fuel supplied by technical partner Shell. GTL is a gas to liquid fuel produced from natural gas. GTL has an advantage over conventional petroleum diesel in that it is free of sulfur and produces less particulate emissions without any changes to the engine. The same processes used to produce the liquid fuel from natural gas can be used to produce fuel from a syngas derived from biomass. Audi's press release is after the jump.
With TDI power and GTL diesel fuel in the Ardennes
# Third round of the Le Mans Series at Spa-Francorchamps
# Audi R10 TDI runs with synthetic diesel fuel
# Motorsport accelerates diesel development
Ingolstadt – On the Whitsun weekend, the Audi R10 TDI will make its racing début at Spa-Francorchamps, on one of the world's most demanding race tracks. For Audi, the race in the Belgian Ardennes is more than just the third round of the Le Mans Series: with every racing kilometre, valuable know-how is being collected, which is fed into the next generation of Audi TDI engines. The same applies to the diesel fuel used in the V12 TDI engine of the Audi R10 TDI: Shell V-Power Diesel is a extremely clean diesel fuel delivering a very high performance, which is subjected to continuous development by means of motorsport.
With the R10 TDI project, Audi proved its pioneering spirit yet again. The brand with the four rings was the first automobile manufacturer to venture the project of creating a diesel sportscar for the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The courage of innovation was rewarded: in 2006 Audi made headlines around the world with the first-ever Le Mans victory of a diesel engine. In 2007 the R10 TDI was again triumphant at Le Mans.
As a development partner, Shell was involved in the R10 TDI project from the outset. Since its victorious début in March 2006, the diesel-powered sportscar from Ingolstadt has been running with GTL diesel fuel from Shell.
GTL (Gas-to-Liquids) is gained from natural gas. The synthetic diesel fuel reduces consumption and is characterised by extremely clean combustion. GTL is as clear as water, has no odour and contains no sulphur.
The GTL fuel, which is produced in Malaysia, is the stage preceding BTL (Biomass-to-Liquids), a future fuel using biological waste as its base material, that will result in a further, massive reduction of CO2 emissions. The engine of the R10 TDI is already fully designed for using BTL diesel fuel.
Similar to Audi, Shell uses its motorsport commitment to glean knowledge for regular, road-going products. "Before Audi addressed the topic there was no diesel know-how in motorsport," explains Richard Karlstetter, who is responsible for the project at Shell. "At Shell, motorsport and production development constantly work together. With the R10 TDI, Shell is learning more about GTL diesel fuel, which started selling at filling stations after the first victory at Le Mans."
Meanwhile, the competition has started benefiting from the joint development of Shell and Audi as well: Shell V-Power Diesel is prescribed as the official fuel at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, in the American Le Mans Series and in the Le Mans Series. That is why the Peugeot 908 runs with GTL as well.
The duel between the quick diesel sportscars from Audi and Peugeot has been dominating the headlines in the European Le Mans Series, which will be staged at Spa-Francorchamps from 9 to 11 May. The Audi youngsters Alexandre Prémat (France) and Mike Rockenfeller (Germany) are coming to Belgium as the leaders of the drivers' standings and want to defend their lead. Their team-mates Dindo Capello (Italy) and Allan McNish (Scotland) were struck by considerable misfortune at the two first races and are eager to finally clinch a podium position.
Practice sessions at Spa-Francorchamps will start on Friday (9 May). Qualifying will take place on Saturday; the race is scheduled to start on Sunday at 12:50 (local time). Eurosport will broadcast the starting phase from 12:45 live and air a half-hour summary report on Sunday night, starting at 10:45 p.m.
Facts & figures
The Audi drivers' teams at Spa
#1 Dindo Capello/Allan McNish
#2 Alexandre Prémat/Mike Rockenfeller
Allan McNish about Spa-Francorchamps: "Everybody likes racing at Spa. The circuit is quick and fluid. Corners like Eau Rouge and Blanchimont are legendary and truly a challenge. A qualifying lap at Spa is something very special because it's difficult to manage a perfect lap. All the more rewarding is the feeling when you've done it."
With a length of 7.004 kilometres, the "Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps" is the longest race track on the schedule of the Le Mans-Series ... In 2003 and 2004 the Audi R8 won the 1000-kilometre race at Spa-Francorchamps ... In 2003 the winners were Seiji Ara/Tom Kristensen, in 2004 Jamie Davies/Johnny Herbert ... In 2004 Audi celebrated the 50th victory of the Audi R8 at Spa-Francorchamps ... All four Audi drivers have racing experience at the circuit of Spa-Francorchamps
The schedule at Spa-Francorchamps
Friday, 9 May
13:00 – 14:00 1st Free Practice
16:50 – 17:50 2nd Free Practice
Saturday, 10 May
09:45 – 10:45 3rd Free Practice
13:50 – 14:10 Qualifying (GT cars)
14:20 – 14:40 Qualifying (prototypes)
Sunday, 11 May
08:45 – 09:05 Warm-up
12:50 – 18:50 Race (143 laps)