Spa: Audi preview

With TDI power and GTL diesel fuel in the Ardennes Ingolstadt -- On the Whitsun weekend, the Audi R10 TDI will make its racing debut at Spa-Francorchamps, on one of the world's most demanding race tracks. For Audi, the race in the Belgian ...

With TDI power and GTL diesel fuel in the Ardennes

Ingolstadt -- On the Whitsun weekend, the Audi R10 TDI will make its racing debut 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 parter, Shell was involved in the R10 TDI project from the outset. Since its victorious debut 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 sulfur.

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 Premat (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
No. 1 Dindo Capello/Allan McNish
No. Alexandre Premat/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."

Interesting snippets

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

-credit: audi

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About this article
Series European Le Mans
Drivers Johnny Herbert , Tom Kristensen , Allan McNish , Seiji Ara , Alexandre Prémat , Mike Rockenfeller , Dindo Capello