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It’s a little known fact that, up until today at least, all diesel powered Audi Le Mans prototypes remained in the possession Audi themselves… or perhaps Kolles. Costing a fortune to run and eligible for competition in Le Mans up until very recently, no R10 TDI, R15 TDI or any R18 has ever been put up for sale by the factory other than the agreement with the former Audi DTM team run by Colin Kolles to field the cars at Le Mans in 2009 and 2010. Consider the level of surprise then when we found that a sole R10 TDI was going up for auction at the Le Mans Classic… today. By the time you read this the car may have already been sold and thus our apologies if you were an able buyer, but we wanted to share the news just the same. Hat tip to the ever-informative Audi Motorsport Blog for sharing the story.
Several Audi R8 LMP1s have found their way into private hands, but this is the first TDI as mentioned above. The car will go or maybe already went across the block at the Artcurial Le Mans Classic Auction today. And while its pedigree does not include a Le Mans win, it does have a rich history of running in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) and Le Mans Series (LMS) as a factory works car from 2007-2008. This is also one of the R10s that was sold to Kolles for use at Le Mans and in the Le Mans Series during 2009-2010. Interestingly, this car was piloted by Audi Sport factory driver Andre Lotterer in his first bid for Le Mans with Kolles in 2009 and was also driven by Scott Tucker, the only American to ever contest Le Mans in an Audi, in 2010.
Both Andre Lotterer and Emanuele Pirro, another Audi works driver to have driven this car, are at the Le Mans Classic in Le Mans today. We wonder if they’ll watch their former ride be sold to the highest bidder.
Below is the full background on the car as provided by Artcurial.
Lot #187: 2007 AUDI R10 TDI, chassis #201
After four-wheel drive cars were banned from rallying and touring car events, Audi looked for a sporting programme that would best promote its innovative capabilities, in Europe and also in the US, an important market for the marque. After long deliberations, they chose Endurance racing, which Porsche had just retired from, over Formula 1 and Indianapolis. Announced in 1998, Audi first appeared on the track in 1999 with an open car, the R8R, run by Reinhold Joest’s team, who had been chosen for his experience which included four victories at Le Mans in the 24 Hour Race. With this expert preparation, the car won 3rd at the Sebring 12 Hours on its first outing. This initial success turned to triumph at the Le Mans 24 Hours that year, when the R8R found itself on the podium again. Audi had also entered two closed cars at Le Mans, with disappointing results, and so the future direction was set. The coupés were forgotten, and development continued on the spyders to improve their effectiveness. It was a profoundly modified car that appeared for the following season: the R8. In addition to the roll-cage, which now resembled that used on a single seater, the aerodynamics had been completely re-designed, which caused modifications to the mechanical elements too. The new car was a great success, achieving a double win over BMW and Panoz at the 2000 Sebring race. This was just the beginning of a story that would tell of five victories at Le Mans (2000-2001-2002-2004-2005), and 70 victories, along with Team and Constructor titles in the American Le Mans series.
A move to diesel
A change in direction came in 2006, following a new regulation requiring an increase in weight for the LM P1, from 900 to 925 kg, which effectively opened the category up to diesel engines. Dr Ullrich, Competition Director for the Ingolstadt manufacturer, did not let this opportunity pass. Audi looked at how investments made in the
” Monsieur tout le Monde ” car, reducing consumption and protecting the environment, could be used in competition. And so the R10 TDI was born. A technological choice allowing fewer re-fuelling stops and fewer gear changes – two fundamentals in endurance racing. Audi developed, under the direction of Ulrich Baretzky, an all-aluminium V12 engine of 5.5-litres, (the maximum allowed), boosted by two 2.94-bar Garrett turbochargers, that, despite two intakes of just 39.9mm, produced more than 650 bhp, with torque of 1,100 newton/metre between 3000 and 5500 rpm. The engine benefitted from an injection system operating at more than 1,600 times atmospheric pressure, injecting a precise amount of fuel in the combustion chambers. In the marketing material, Audi made much of the fact that, highly unusual for a racing car, the V12 was based on TDI technology, the recent development on the production models. Fitted with two particle filters, the engine ran smoothly, and, according to the drivers, the R10 TDI was difficult to identify as a diesel-powered car. The styling was similar to the R8, but the wheelbase was lengthened from 2,750 to 2,980mm, to take the larger V12 engine. To comply with the regulations, the front overhang increased from 900 to 919mm and the rear decreased from 999 to 746mm. At the front, a pointed nose directed more air onto the engine and the front wheels. The new carbon fibre monocoque was narrower than the R8. It was fitted with a double-bubble roll bar over both seats in the cockpit. Although the new ruling was intended to reduce the downforce of the LM P1s by 15%, Audi claimed to have maintained the same aerodynamic efficiency as on the R8, due to a 5cm lower body. This work was carried out by Dallara under Wolfgang Appel and the Audi Sport design team. The transmission, was developed specially, in collaboration with X-Trac, and with the enormous torque available, had just five gears. Even the test benches had to be fitted with special supports capable of withstanding the extreme stresses. Michelin were asked to produce special tyres, in particular for the front wheels, with a diameter increased by 3cm to increase the tread surface. These were sizes never previously used on an LM P1 car. Finally, while ZF Sachs worked on a ceramic clutch, Shell refined a special fuel, the V-Power diesel, with fluidity and efficiency properties, as exceptional as the car it was destined for.
From success to success
After four absent years, 2006 marked the return of an official Audi team to La Sarthe and also to the American Le Mans Series. As in 2002, this was run by Joest Racing which had, by then, clocked up 7 victories in the 24 Hour Race at Le Mans. It was to be an exceptional season, which began with a victory on its first outing at Sebring, followed by a success in the Le Mans 24 Hour Race, and a North American campaign in which the R10 TDIs were undefeated with seven consecutive wins. In 2007, Pirro-Biela-Werner won at Sebring, the only outing before Le Mans. However, Peugeot was looking increasingly menacing with its 908 HDi which claimed 2nd place at Le Mans, 10 laps behind the only Joest team Audi to finish. The 908 HDi continued to develop and won the Le Mans series, with Audi absent. The battle between the two major manufacturers continued in 2008, when the R10 RDI team claimed victory at Le Mans and in the Le Mans Series, the latter due to a lucky set of circumstances. At Ingolstadt, the decision was taken to build a new car – the R15 TDI – and to offer the R10 TDI to any private team with sufficient funds to run such a sophisticated car. This was the case with the Kolles team, based at Inglostadt, who bought two chassis and competed throughout the European season including Le Mans.
It is one of these two cars that is offered in the sale. An ex-factory R10 TD1, which brought glory to Alexandre Premat and Mike Rockenfeller in the 2008 Le Mans series, when they achieved 4th place at Silverstone, with favorites Peugeot eliminated from the race. This is a car built by Audi, and the first of its kind ever to appear at auction. A chassis with an outstanding racing provenance, that has participated twice in the Le Mans 24 Hours, once at Sebring (1st in class), and once in the Petit Le Mans with numerous outstanding results during its three full seasons of racing.
Mosport: No. 2 (Werner-Pirro) fourth and fourth LMP
Petit Le Mans: No. 2 (Luhr-Werner) and 17th? LMP
Laguna Seca: No. 2 (Rockenfeller-Werner) and third? LMP
2008 (allowing Premat-Rockenfeller to score points for the title LMS)
Sebring: No. 1 (KristenseCapello-McNish) first and third LM P1
Nürburgring: No. 2 (Premat-Rockenfeller) and the third third LM P1
Silverstone: No. 2 (Premat-Rockenfeller) fourth and fourth LM P1
2009 (arrival of the R15 TDI ALMS and no – chassis sold Kolles)
Barcelona: No. 14 (Krumm Meyrick) 27th
Spa: No. 14 (Karthikeyan-Meyrick-Zwolsman) 6th
Le Mans: # 14 (Lotterer / Zwolsman / Karthikeyan) 7th
Portimao: No. 14 (Karthikeyan-Meyrick-Zwolsman) not classified
Nürburgring: No. 14 (Karthikeyan-Meyrick-Zwolsman) fourth
Silverstone: No. 14 (Karthikeyan-Meyrick-Zwolsman) 6th
Okayama: No. 14 (Albers-Cressoni-Noda) sixth after finishing fifth in Race 1 and 6th in Race 2
Le Mans: # 14 (Bouchut-Tucker-Rodrigues) retired
Artcurial Le Mans Classic Auction 2012