Audi has formally announced its racing programme for the 2009 season, which will be headlined by a new car for its attempt at a ninth win in the Le Mans 24 Hours.
Having taken another win with the R10 TDi during 2008, the German marque will give the new R15 TDi its La Sarthe debut in June, where three cars will be entered by Audi Sport Team Joest.
The Audi R15 TDi differs significantly from its predecessor at first glance and features many technically innovative details with which Audi aims to maintain its supremacy at Le Mans in the diesel battle against rivals Peugeot.
The new Le Mans prototype is equipped with a smaller, lighter and even more efficient TDi engine and will once again be an open-topped machine, with Audi electing not to follow the route of Peugeot in going for a closed-coupe prototype.
The car will start its private testing later this year ahead of a race debut in the Sebring 12 Hours in March, which will also mark the first public appearance of the car.
"It was clear to us that we must develop a new car if we wanted to continue to be successful in Le Mans," head of Audi motorsport Dr Wolfgang Ullrich, said. "The Audi R15 TDI is the result. The step from R10 to R15 is significantly larger than it was from the R8 to the R10."
Audi will also continue to run in the DTM during 2009 with its target being to secure the title for a third straight year, while up to eight customer Audi R8 LMS GT3 machines could be seen in various series' around Europe.
"2008 was the largest and most successful motorsport programme in AUDI AG history," Ullrich continued. "We want to continue this in 2009. In view of the international economic and financial crisis, it is clear that motorsport must also make a contribution to reduce costs further. It is all the more pleasing that we have found a way to continue our two large projects, the new Le Mans sports car and the DTM, and added another string to our bow with the GT3 customer sport programme. This demonstrates just how valuable motorsport is for Audi."