German car maker Audi has unveiled its latest sportscar which Britain’s Allan McNish hopes will enable him to score his third and the manufacturer’s 10th Le Mans 24 Hours endurance race victory next June.
Audi’s latest sports-prototype features a brand new 3.7-litre V6 TDI turbocharged diesel engine and marks the first time a “closed” cockpit sportscar has been raced by the Audi Sport Team Joest outfit. Buckinghamshire-based Audi Sport UK entered an Audi R8C Coupé at Le Mans in 1999.
Commenting on the new car, Dumfries-born McNish said: “I tested the R18 for the first time at the end of last month (November) which was essentially the Coupé’s initial roll-out combined with its maiden test.
“The car ran very well without any technical problems. We encountered wet and dry running enabling us to collect a lot of information in all types of track conditions.
“After racing an ‘open’ Audi sportscar since 2000, it was a renewed experience for me to again drive a sportscar with a roof. Audi has done a great job with the design – the front certainly looks very aggressive – I’m sure we have a contender for race honours.”
Audi took part at Le Mans for the first time in 1999 and followed its debut with nine overall victories (2000-2, 2004-8, 2010) in 12 attempts.
The racing debut of the Audi R18 is planned for the Spa-Francorchamps (Belgium) 6 Hours on May 8. Audi is planning to field three Audi R18 cars at Le Mans, which will be entered by Audi Sport Team Joest, the most successful Le Mans team of all time.