Audi has taken the wraps off its latest R18 TDI LMP1 sportscar in preparation for the 2016 World Endurance Championship and Le Mans 24 Hours, with management describing it as a 'major step'.
The German manufacturer, which lost out on both titles to sister company Porsche in 2015, unveiled the new machine at a ceremony in Munich, revealing a notably different design for the R18 but retaining its TDI powerplant.
Though specific details of the new car weren't revealed, Audi says the R18 features innovative aerodynamics, represents the next stage in lightweight design and has a modified hybrid system with lithium-ion batteries for energy storage, plus an efficiency-optimized TDI engine. It is set to step up to the 6 megajoule class for 2016.
Coming just two weeks after the end of the 2015 season, Audi Motorsport Dr Wolfgang Ullrich is confident the marque can fight back against its rivals having also lost out to Toyota in 2014.
“With our new Audi R18, we're setting a clear signal: Audi continues to put the pedal to the metal in motorsport, deliberately relying on TDI – the world's most successful automotive efficiency technology – at Le Mans,”
“We're proud about being able to again represent the Audi brand in 2016 with such an extensive commitment in motorsport,” says Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. “The new Audi R18 marks a major step that we're expecting a lot of at Le Mans and in the WEC.”
Audi also revealed it will retain the same drivers of Marcel Fassler, Andre Lotterer, Benoit Treluyer, Lucas di Grassi, Loic Duval and Oliver Jarvis, but will not run a third car at Le Mans.