Audi R10 to debut at Sebring

AUDI UNVEILS DIESEL-POWERED R10 PROTOTYPE THAT WILL DEBUT AT MOBIL 1 TWELVE HOURS OF SEBRING Paris, France - Armed with cutting-edge technology developed en route to five overall 24 Hours of Le Mans victories and six American Le Mans Series ...

AUDI UNVEILS DIESEL-POWERED R10 PROTOTYPE THAT WILL DEBUT AT MOBIL 1 TWELVE HOURS OF SEBRING

Paris, France - Armed with cutting-edge technology developed en route to five overall 24 Hours of Le Mans victories and six American Le Mans Series championships, Audi AG today unveiled its new R10 LMP1 today at a worldwide media briefing in Paris. Described as the most sophisticated and technologically advanced sports car ever produced, the diesel-powered prototype will make its competitive debut at the 54th annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring on March 18, the opening event of the 2006 American Le Mans Series.

"Audi has been an integral part of the American Le Mans Series for six years and is our defending champion. We are ecstatic that our relationship will continue, stronger than ever," said Scott Atherton, president and CEO of the American Le Mans Series. "Audi has played a leading role in the success of the American Le Mans Series, and we believe the series has contributed significantly to the success of Audi - certainly in North America. The fact that we are beginning a new chapter together is good news for all involved."

Audi's specific plans for the 2006 American Le Mans Series will be announced in the near future.

Audi's record in the American Le Mans Series speaks for itself. The marque has won 47 times in the series (all with its R8), including seven in 2005. Six different Audi drivers have won American Le Mans Series drivers championships in LMP1 (most recently Frank Biela and Emanuele Pirro in 2005), and Audi teams have won every LMP1 team championship since 2000. Audi has excelled on the biggest stages in sports car racing, as well. The manufacturer swept the sport's three most prestigious races -- Sebring, the 24 Hours of Le Mans and Petit Le Mans -- each of the past two seasons. That record extends to 14 of the last 15 endurance classics, starting at the 2000 12 Hours of Sebring. The Audi R8 also has won 38 pole positions in LMP1, another series record.

Audi plans to use this year's 12 Hours of Sebring as a test for the 74th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the world's most prestigious automobile race. One of the most elite marques in the world, Audi will go for its seventh straight overall win at Sebring. "The circuit's characteristics make this race one of the hardest in the world and the perfect opportunity to put a new car through its paces," said Wolfgang Appel, head of vehicle technology at Audi Sport.

In a series that features premium automobile manufacturers showcasing the latest in technology, Audi again leads the pack. The most unique feature of the R10 is its 5.5-liter, V12 diesel engine that produces more than 650 hp and 1,100 Newton-meters of torque. It is the most powerful diesel engine in the world, said Ulrich Baretzky, head of engine technology at Audi Sport. The diesel package will provide better fuel economy and a longer life.

"The R10 project is the biggest challenge ever to have been handed to Audi Sport," said Head of Audi Motorsport, Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. "TDI technology has not been pushed to its limits in motorsport yet. We are the first to confront the challenge. The demands of such a project are accordingly high. Long-term technology partners such as Bosch, Michelin and Shell support us in our quest. Together we have the chance to write new chapters in the history books of motorsport and diesel technology."

"Audi stands at the forefront of automotive technology and has been a leader in directly transferring their racing developments to their road cars," Atherton said. "We can now add the use of diesel technology to this list. This will make the R10 a pioneer in terms of alternate forms of fuel."

Cosmetically, the R10 possesses many of the same features of the R8. Underneath the surface, however, is a world of difference. The Audi R10 has a significantly longer wheelbase than the R8 (due in part to the larger engine), and the overly wide front tires are, up until now, unique for a Le Mans Prototype. New technologies also were implemented during the development of the carbon-fiber monocoque. The chassis, engine and gearbox form an extremely rigid, fully stressed unit.

Already, the R10 has taken its first laps. Audi conducted the roll-out of the car Nov. 29. By the time Le Mans rolls around, it is expected that the V12 diesel will have nearly 3,000 test-bench hours and several thousand miles to its credit before Le Mans. The development team from Audi Sport is supported by Reinhold Joest's squad, which also performed this task during the R8 project.

"There has been more speculation and buzz regarding the unveiling of Audi's R10 than any other sports car I can remember," Atherton said. "It is a testament to the level of anticipation and interest the motorsports community has for this world-class, next-generation prototype. The Audi R8 will go down in history as one of the most successful cars in our sport's history, but the R10 no doubt will be a worthy successor."

The American Le Mans Series opens the 2006 season with the 54th annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, scheduled for March 18 on SPEED Channel. Series teams will have the opportunity to test at the second annual Wheels Down Winter Test from Jan. 23-25 at Sebring International Raceway.

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