New Audi R15 TDI Prototype Wins 12 Hours of Sebring
Audi is establishing quite a promising legacy at the 12 Hours of Sebring. The last three Audi prototypes – the R8 (2000), R10 TDI (2006) and R15 TDI (2009) – have all won their racing debuts in the American Le Mans P1 class. The #2 car, driven by Dindo Capello, Tom Kristensen and Allan McNish completed 383 laps, beating the old distance record by 13 laps in the fastest Sebring race ever. Despite being prototypes, the Audi R15 TDI cars ran into no technical problems during the race, thanks to a mad scramble prior to start by the crew in preparation for temperatures that were twice as high as they had previously tested and on a track that was especially bumpy.
The Audi R15 TDI driven by Allan McNish got off to a fast start, quickly moving past the pole Acura/Honda car and establishing a 5 second advantage after the first lap. However, the majority of the race was spent battling two Peugeot 908s. There were twelve lead changes between these two diesel-powered prototypes. However, the #2 R15 was able to pull off the ninth overall victory for Audi at Sebring with a 22.279 second lead over Peugeot. In addition to winning the race, Audi also won the Michellin Green X Challenge with its pair of R15s. The competition pits fuel consumption vs performance.
AUDI has been the company to pay attention to, and learn from, for a while now. This company continues to impress me in their design, function, performance, and the intelligence with which they put all these elements together. They have always made sedans that performed well, often sleepers with inline 5 turbo engines, or their now famous 4.2L V8. But when the TT came along people sat up, and noticed they don’t just make big heavy boxes. It wasn’t a huge performer, but it looked damn good, and sold well. Then the S4 got redesigned, and had a nice little V8 installed to boot. The previous TT V6 S4 was an amazing car, but it’s numbers don’t compare to the new one. Everyone loved the new A4 look, it was aggressive, but subtle. An 18 year old kid could lust after it without being called a nerd, but his dad could take it to work without being called immature. After that the snowball kept rolling. We have seen the RS4, insanely underrated RS6, and these only iced the cake built on high sales of A4s and A6s. AUDI was attacking two fronts: family luxury and solid performance. Well it’s has been winning both of them since the battle began. This all happened, of course, before the absolutely dominating R8 came out. That was AUDI’s swipe at the super car regulars, and it knocked their head off. Oh, did I mention they are at the forefront of high performance clean diesel through the incredible season of their RACE cars? Yeah, they win races with diesel, and pass the savings on to you. If you want to run a car company, follow AUDI around with a notepad and write quickly. I’m sure the owners of the “Big 3” have a whole team spying on AUDI right now. This is, all around, my favorite car company, period.