Four of Audi's DTM squad got the chance to try out the marque's R10 TDi sports prototype on the eve of the new touring car season, and are now casting one eye towards the Le Mans 24 Hours and the chance to race the machine for real.
Mattias Ekström, Lucas Luhr, Alex Prémat and Mike Rockenfeller completed approximately 1400 kilometres with the diesel-powered machine during a development test for the 24 Hours at Paul Ricard, and are now apparently in the frame should Audi decide to enter a third car for the French classic.
Even though some had previous sports prototype experience - and, in Premat's case, recent F1 experience - all four were impressed by the power and torque produced by the V12 TDi engine during the test.
"The thing just takes off like a rocket in every gear,” Rockenfeller said with a broad smile, "You get used to everything with time – but this engine is simply amazing. It's a fantastic feeling every time you hit the throttle.”
Luhr, who - like Rockenfeller - is used to LMP2 machinery from German rival Porsche and used to compete against Audi in the American Le Mans Series, admitted that he was surprised just how noticeable the heavier weight, stipulated by the LMP1 regulations, was.
"You notice that the car is 150kg heavier, particularly when you brake into the corners or have to change direction rapidly," he revealed, "However, the R10 is very driveable, reacts precisely to changes and is great fun to drive – and obviously the engine power is staggering.”
Prémat, who made his F1 debut with Spyker in China last season, got a taste of the R10 on his 25th birthday and was equally impressed with the way Audi's sportscar programme was run.
"It's incredible to see just how professionally the Audi team works," he said, "The R10 is simply unbelievable - it may be a TDi, but it has the power of an F1 car. I'm extremely grateful that Audi gave me the opportunity to test this car - it was a nice birthday present.”
Ekström, meanwhile, was able to compare the new car to its predecessor, the petrol-powered R8, but was amazed at the advances that had been made.