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The countdown for the 2010 Le Mans 24 Hours is underway. In preparation for the sports car highlight of the year, Audi Sport Team Joest will contest the U.S. endurance classic "Petit Le Mans” at Road Atlanta (U.S. state of Georgia) on September 26 with two Audi R15 TDI cars.
The inaugural "Petit Le Mans” race was held in 1998 and has been bringing Le Mans flair to the United States ever since. The 1,000-mile race near the U.S. metropolis Atlanta helped launch the American Le Mans Series in which Audi was the dominant brand from 2000 to 2008. The exploits of the Audi R8 and the Audi R10 TDITDISynonymous with muscular torque delivery and outstanding efficiency: TDI. Today, TDI engines are sporty, smooth and economical.TDI over the past nine years have helped Audi achieve a better development of its business in the difficult U.S. market than other premium brands. With 8,057 vehicles sold, Audi most recently recorded the second-best August result in Audi of America’s history.
By competing in the popular "Petit Le Mans” race, Audi Sport supports the market launch of TDI technology in North America: Since April 2009, the Audi Q7 TDI 3.0 has been available in the United States; in December, the Audi A3 TDI 2.0 will arrive at U.S. dealerships.
The Audi R15 TDI demonstrates the high performance capabilities of a TDI power-plant. The Audi engineers extract over 600 hp from the 5.5-liter V10 TDI engine that celebrated an important victory on its racing debut in March: Dindo Capello, Tom Kristensen and Allan McNish at the wheel of the brand new LMP1 vehicle immediately won the 12-hour race at Sebring (Florida).
On the other hand, the R15 TDI’s Le Mans debut that ended in a third-place finish did not go according to Audi’s plans. The aim is for Audi Sport Team Joest to gather more racing experience with the technologically innovative racing sports car at Road Atlanta which will then be fed into the further development of the R15 TDI for 2010.
The vehicles being fielded in the U.S. race are unchanged except for adaptions suiting the special characteristics of the track at Road Atlanta. During tests at Vallelunga (Italy) in early September various set-up versions for Road Atlanta were compared.
Although the race mainly serves as a test run for Le Mans 2010, Audi would like to continue its string of exploits in the U.S. endurance classic: The brand with the four rings has contested the "Petit Le Mans” race nine times so far and each time an Audi crossed the finish line as the winner. Six races were won by the Audi R8, and three by the Audi R10 TDI.
The last three victories for Audi were clinched by the driver team Dindo Capello (Italy)/Allan McNish (Scotland) who will again be competing together and targeting a fourth consecutive triumph, a feat no driver has achieved to date. The "sister car” designated as car number 1 will be driven by the reigning ALMS Champions Lucas Luhr and Marco Werner (both Germany), who took third place last year at Road Atlanta.
Practice at Road Atlanta will start on Wednesday. Qualifying will be held on Friday afternoon. The race will start on Saturday at 11:15 am local time and will cover a distance of 1,000 miles or a maximum of ten hours into the night.
The two diesel-powered racing sports cars will be driven by Dindo Capello (Italy) and Allan McNish (Scotland) as well as the two Germans Lucas Luhr and Marco Werner. DTM racer Mike Rockenfeller is planned to be the team’s reserve driver.
From 2006 to 2008, Audi dominated the American Le Mans Series with the revolutionary R10 TDI and won the champion’s title in the LMP1 class three times in a row. The R10 TDI celebrated a total of 18 victories in the American Le Mans Series and thus paved the way for introducing TDI technology on the market in North America.
The R15 TDI successor model, the first second-generation diesel-powered racing sports car, won the 12-hour race at Sebring (Florida) – the season opener of this year’s American Le Mans Series – at its debut race in March 2009 right away. At the 24-hour race at Le Mans, however, the brief experience with the new R15 TDI took its toll on Audi Sport Team Joest: After five consecutive Le Mans victories, Audi had to settle for third place at the French endurance classic this year.