First race for new Audi R10 TDI American Le Mans Series season opener at Sebring (USA) Frank Biela and Tom Kristensen complete driver line-up Audi drivers facing difficult task The 2007 Audi R10 TDI, which was unveiled to the world's public ...
First race for new Audi R10 TDI
American Le Mans Series season opener at Sebring (USA) Frank Biela and Tom Kristensen complete driver line-up Audi drivers facing difficult task The 2007 Audi R10 TDI, which was unveiled to the world's public on Monday evening in Munich, contests its first race on Saturday (17 March) at Sebring (USA). The 12-hour race in "Sunshine State" Florida is the opening race and one of the highlights of the American Le Mans Series, and also dress rehearsal for the Le Mans 24 Hours for Audi Sport's team.
It is not only the new design that distinguishes the further developed Audi R10 TDI from its successful predecessor that started its winning streak exactly one year ago and remains unbeaten since then. To ensure that it remains the car to beat in 2007, innumerable details were optimised on the LM P1 Prototype.
The Audi R10 TDI will certainly not have things all its own way its second year of competition. The 150 kilogram lighter LM P2 cars are allowed to race in the American Le Mans Series with more engine power than at Le Mans. At the same time, diesel powered cars must manage with a nine-litre smaller fuel tank in the future -- as stipulated by the Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO) regulations.
Reducing the fuel-cell volume from 90 to 81 litres -- realised by mounting a partition in the tank -- was not the only modification made to the latest R10 TDI model by Audi Sport over the winter. The complex electronic system associated with the V12 TDI engine was optimised together with partner Bosch. The majority of the other modification targeted an improvement in efficiency, consumption, durability and drivability. The maximum power is unchanged at around 650 hp, but the power curve was noticeably improved.
The R10 TDI carbon-fibre monocoque is identical to last year's design. Minor aerodynamic modifications, which are only visible to the trained eye, were made to the exterior surfaces.
The friction and weight levels of the entire powertrain were reduced. The two diesel particle filters are also now smaller and lighter. Tyre partner Michelin supplied new compounds and constructions to improve the balance between front and rear axles. The R10 TDI suspension and dampers were also refined.
The further developed R10 TDI completed the first tests in November 2006. Audi Sport tested at Sebring in February where the "new one" made a good impression.
Experienced drivers at the wheel of the two Audi R10 TDI cars
Taking turns at the wheel of the two cars at Sebring and Le Mans are the six drivers who were also instrumental in the development of the performance diesel: Frank Biela (Germany), Dindo Capello (Italy), Tom Kristensen (Denmark), Allan McNish (Scotland), Emanuele Pirro (Italy) and Marco Werner (Germany).
The defending Champions Capello/McNish (R10 TDI number 1) and Pirro/Werner (R10 TDI number 2) are planned to be the drivers for the entire American Le Mans Series. Le Mans record winner Tom Kristensen and Frank Biela bolster the driving squads at Sebring and Le Mans. Audi has entered a third R10 TDI for Le Mans. However the entry is subject to sufficient finance being found.
The pair of new Audi R10 TDI cars, which start at Sebring, were flown to the USA on Wednesday (7 March). Practice at Sebring starts on Monday (12 March). The race starts on Saturday (17 March) 10 a.m. local time (4 p.m. in Germany). Audi remains unbeaten in the American endurance classic since the year 2000.
Quotes before the race at Sebring
Dr Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport): "Sebring is traditionally a very important race for Audi. On the one side it is a dress rehearsal for Le Mans, and on the other the opening race of the American Le Mans Series, for which additional points are awarded because of the 12-hour distance. We are well prepared, but are also well aware just how tough the race will be due to the new regulations. Our R10 TDI must start with a smaller fuel tank for the first time, and the LM P2 will be on a par from the performance aspect. After seven Sebring wins in a row our target is nevertheless to fight for another victory."
Dindo Capello (Audi R10 TDI #1): "Sebring is the only opportunity we have before Le Mans to race with the technology, the driver pairings and the team as it will be at Le Mans. I've always had a real soft spot for Sebring and have already won there twice. Sebring is one of the world's toughest race tracks because of the bumps. When you find a good set-up for the track you don't really have to worry about the rest of the year."
Tom Kristensen (Audi R10 TDI #1): "I'm looking forward to the first race of 2007. It's become a small tradition for Audi and I that the season begins at this fantastic circuit. Sebring is a big event and a real challenge for man and machine. Apart from the bumps there are five different types of tarmac. We come from the European winter into the sun, and the race runs into the night. Sebring is stressful for the drivers and cars. It is the best test ground for the latest generation Audi R10 TDI."
Allan McNish (Audi R10 TDI #1): "It great to see that the season is about to start. It was a long winter break even though we tested. So, it's high time that we got started with the real business. Sebring is a great start: The race is 12-hours long and difficult for driver and car. Tom, Dindo and I return to Florida as last year's winners. However, Honda and Porsche will be very strong. Sebring is the first chance for everybody to relative performance of the new cars. It should be interesting."
Frank Biela (Audi R10 TDI #2): "I only race twice this year: Sebring and Le Mans. So, Sebring is even more important than usual. The race is extremely prestigious and it would be fantastic to win there again. It's also the only opportunity we have as a team to see whether everything functions perfectly. I'm looking forward to the challenge."
Emanuele Pirro (Audi R10 TDI #2): "The winter was long, so the anticipation of the first race of the season is even greater. Sebring is one of the most important races of the year, and we have two jobs to do: We have to test for Le Mans, but also want to win the race. We already tested at Sebring in February. The new car worked well there and the whole team is in top form."
Marco Werner (Audi R10 TDI #2): "It goes without saying that I'm absolutely delighted to have a full season of racing to look forward to and can't wait for Sebring. I can finally get down to the business of racing again. I hope that I find my rhythm quickly, since testing and racing are two different things."