Ingolstadt/Le Mans -- Audi Sport has spooled off approximately 20,000 test kilometers with the Audi R15 TDI since its roll out last December. Now things get serious: The first 24 Hours of Le Mans race for the technically innovative racing sports car from AUDI AG is on the agenda this coming weekend.
Audi Sport Team Joest cleared the first compulsory hurdle in France without encountering any complications: On Monday, all three Audi R15 TDI concluded technical scrutineering in the Le Mans town center without problems, which was followed, despite the pouring rain, by thousands of fans but also by numerous representatives from the competition.
"It's fantastic that in spite of the terrible weather so many spectators attended the technical scrutineering, which traditionally opens the Le Mans week," explained Head of Audi Motorsport Dr Wolfgang Ullrich. "That our competitors were also interested in the R15 TDI is clear -- after all they haven't seen the car since Sebring."
After its victorious debut in March the diesel racing sportscar has been purposely optimized for the peculiarities of the extremely fast race track at Le Mans. "We had planned two aerodynamic configurations for the R15 TDI from the very beginning," says Dr Ullrich. "A version for Sebring with maximum downforce, and one for Le Mans with greater emphasis on the aerodynamic efficiency. The basic concept is, however, exactly the same. The modifications which we undertook for Le Mans were already planned before Sebring."
It was not only the three Audi R15 TDI which took the limelight on Monday, but also the nine Audi drivers who signed innumerable autographs despite the bad weather. Timo Bernhard and Romain Dumas came directly to Le Mans from America after completing a race for Porsche at Watkins Glen, Dindo Capello from a race with the Audi R8 LMS at Magione, Italy.
Tom Kristensen surprised the spectators with his new helmet design which portrays the Audi R15 TDI. The Le Mans record winner was surrounded, as usual, by fans, journalists, photographers and television camera teams. "We had technical scrutineering a day earlier than in the previous years," said the Dane. "That so many spectators already turned up on Monday, in spite of such bad weather, shows just how important the race at Le Mans is. That our three cars once more passed effortlessly through scrutineering proves that our mechanics and engineers have done a perfect job. This gives us drivers a confident feeling. We'll use the extra day to inspect the track."
Rainy weather is forecast up to and including Wednesday. Sunshine and temperatures of up to 26 degrees Celsius in the shade are expected in time for the weekend.