Friday, January 7, 2011

Audi’s New R18

We’re willing to bet that as soon as the three R15s Audi Motorsport fielded in the 2010 24 Hours of Le Mans nabbed the first, second, and third spots, Audi Motorsport Director Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich started thinking about how to make Audi’s next racer even better. Earlier this week, the wraps were taken off Ullrich’s latest masterpiece, theR18. Details are still scarce, but from the looks of it, we’re confident Audi has a good chance of notching another hat trick at the world’s most famous race. Read on to see more photos and to find out why it’s going to dominate the track .

Audi was one of the pioneers of diesel-powered race cars. If you peeped the awesome 2009 documentary Truth in 24, you saw how Audi’s last Le Mans racer, the R10, prepped for the 24 Hours of Le Mans and then dominated the field. So it’s no surprise that the folks in Ingolstadt, Germany decided to keep on rocking with a with a fuel-efficient, turbocharged diesel. This time around, the R18 will be powered by a 3.7-liter six-cylinder engine. Horsepower ratings haven’t been released, but all you need to know is that it’ll be faster than the R8. The R8, R10, and R15 stood out from the pack due to their open cockpits, making for awesome aerodynamics and easier driver changes; the style hearkened back to earlier styles of race car. Unfortunately, new construction rules and regulations for 2011 have forced the R18 to don a roof. Ullrich didn’t seem too pleased with the change, saying: “The rules mean you have to have a roof to be competitive…driver changes are always easier with open cars, but the changes have taken that away.” Whatever it takes to win, we guess.When it comes to race cars, it’s always function over form. But somehow, Audi has beautifully blended the two together for the R18. Everything from the large, multifaceted LED headlights to its aerodynamic swoops,to the shark fin out back make the carbon-fiber-clad R18 the most aesthetically pleasing race car we've seen from Audi.

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