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Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Audi R10: How do you replace one of the most successful racecars ever?

Audi R10
With a diesel. No, seriously.
Inside Line, really late with some "news" lately, is covering the Audi R10, a diesel powered race car which will run in and probably dominate the 24 hours of LeMans.
The brand-new Audi R10 racecar streaks by, and instead of the urgent exhaust note of the now retired R8, the R10 just sounds…odd. A low, but authoritative, rumble, not unpleasant at all. And certainly not what we were expecting. No smoke, no smell.

After all, the R10 is powered by a 5.5-liter twin-turbodiesel, which Audi's press materials describe as "extremely economical." On fuel, perhaps, but no one will speak on the record about how economical it was for Audi to develop an all-new diesel engine to place in an all-new racecar, with which the company fully intends to win not only the 12 Hours of Sebring, but the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

While the R10 has tested privately in Europe, the three-day second annual American Le Mans Series Winter Test at Sebring International Raceway in Florida was its official coming-out party. With the exception of the drivers — Italian Rinaldo Capello and German Frank Biela — the Audi personnel on-site seemed almost resentful of even the limited media attention.

When not on the track, the R10 was hustled into enclosed pits with the curtain drawn, ostensibly to keep prying eyes from — what? Building their own turbocharged 650-horsepower aluminum V12 diesel? "They're just being German," one journalist said.

Looks and personality
So how did the R10 do? Typically German, too — it already seems as well sorted and fully realized as most cars are after three years of on-track development. It's gorgeous, with a slight Batmobile quality, shimmering on pit lane with jewellike LEDs front and rear. The entire dashboard is built into the steering wheel, easily replaceable.

And it's fast. Capello's best time of 1:47.308 was the best of any car at the test, soundly beating the official track record set in 2002, and less than a second slower than the R8's best time at Sebring, set during a tire test last winter. The car "feels like an Audi," Capello says, except with way more torque.

Audi R10
Audi R10

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Source: Inside Line


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