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  Audi R18 ultra
 

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Country of origin:Germany
Introduced in:2012
Internal name:R18
Predecessor:Audi R18 TDI
Source:Company press release
Last updated:May 03, 2012
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Click here to download printer friendly versionAudi will be using the second FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) round at Spa-Francorchamps on May 5 as a "dress rehearsal" for the Le Mans 24 Hours as well. For the first time, two new vehicle models have to prove their viability on one of the world's most challenging race tracks.

This date has a special significance on Audi Sport's calendar of events. The second WEC round not only signifies a double vehicle debut. For the first time in Audi's history, a race car will not be exclusively powered by an internal combustion engine. The new Audi R18 e-tron quattro is ringing in a new era in motor racing, being the first diesel hybrid sports car with all-wheel drive. Yet it is not only this concept that pioneers a forward-thinking trend. A key prerequisite for making it reality in the first place is ultra lightweight design - an Audi core competence. The hybrid model is based on the Audi R18 ultra that features a largely identical design but is conventionally powered by a V6 TDI engine. It is the lightest LMP sports car ever designed by Audi. Two cars each of the two new models will be celebrating their racing debuts in Belgium.

The cars' debuts coincide with four other premieres. For the first time, Audi Sport Team Joest is fielding four LMP1 race cars. 1999 last saw Audi put four vehicles on the grid at a sports car race under a factory commitment. The models back then, at Le Mans, were the Audi R8R and R8C, the "progenitors" of today's sports prototypes, albeit being fielded by two different teams. The other debuts: Marc Gené, the newly signed reserve driver from Spain, is standing in for Timo Bernhard, who is taking a break due to injuries from an accident. Also contesting their first sports car race for Audi's factory team are the previous test driver Marco Bonanomi from Italy and the former DTM driver Oliver Jarvis from Great Britain.

Audi's new signing Marc Gené has won the sports car race at Spa twice in the past four years. The other Audi drivers are traveling to the Ardennes with zest and vigor as well. Dindo Capello/Tom Kristensen/Allan McNish as the winners created a top-notch farewell for the Audi R18 TDI at the WEC season opener at Sebring. By clinching victory there they took the lead of the standings in the new FIA World Endurance Championship and are now looking forward to their debut in the Audi R18 e-tron quattro. Ranking just seven points behind them are Loic Duval, Romain Dumas and Timo Bernhard, who finished the event in Florida as the runners-up. André Lotterer, who is competing alongside his colleagues from the Le Mans winning team, Marcel Fassler and Benoit Tréluyer, proved what is possible by taking pole and posting the fastest race lap at the season opener.

So, each of the four Audi driver teams has high ambitions on the 7.004-kilometer roller-coaster circuit in the Ardennes. There is one thing they all aim to achieve for Audi at the 6-hour race that starts at 14:30 on Saturday. Like the Audi R8 in 2000, the R10 TDI six years later and the R15 TDI in 2009 that successfully made their debuts at Sebring, and the "R15 plus" that won at Le Castellet in 2010, the youngest generation of the R18 shall now start its career with a success as well.

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  Article Image gallery (23) Specifications