Audi unleashes big-eyed R18 Le Mans prototype racer

Audi unleashes big-eyed R18 Le Mans prototype racer

Audi has just pulled the covers off its newest LMP1 Le Mans prototype racer, the R18. The new machine looks suitably hardcore and has abandoned the open-top design of its predecessors — the R8, R10 and R15 Plus — for a closed roof to improve aerodynamics and reduce driver fatigue. Audi has been very successful at the Le Mans 24 Hours race in recent years winning it nine times since 1999 with the R8, R10 TDI and R15 TDI. The R18 looks set to continue the legacy.

Unlike the earlier R15, which used a 5.5-litre V10 diesel engine, the new model generates power from a much smaller, 3.7-litre TDI V6 engine, mated to a modified six-speed transmission.

The R18 uses a single-piece carbon fibre monocoque, which keeps weight down and increases stiffness.

In terms of exterior design the headlights are the most eye-catching parts of the R18. The headlights make use of “optimised” LED technology, they incorporate Audi light designers’ personal touch: daytime running lights shaped like a “1”.

The Audi R18 was first approved in mid 2009, while engine testing began in summer 2010. The first track test took place at the end of November and Audi is now planning to enter three cars into next years Le Mans 24 hour endurance race.

Check out more images of the Audi R18 in the gallery below.

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