After winning Le Mans five times from six attempts between 2000 and 2005, interrupted only by Bentley with it’s Audi derived V8 motor, Audi entered the 2006 season with a real game changer.
The turbocharged 5.5 litre V12 335 cui motor used to power the Audi R10 TDI was to run on diesel, and thus reopen a frontier of development in top line motorsport not seriously looked at since the turbocharged Cummins Diesel Special appeared at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1952.
Chassis #102 seen here at Goodwood Festival of Speed appeared in just six races in 2006, after being the fastest car in testing at the Sebring it disgraced it’s self by retiring with an overheating motor in the Sebring 12 hours with Frank Biela, Marco Werner and Emanuele Pirro at the wheel. It’s sister car chassis #101 driven by Rinaldo Capello, Tom Kristensen and Allan McNish became the first diesel powered vehicle to win an international sports car race.
The #102 was 4th fastest on it’s next appearance at the Le Mans test day and two weeks later qualified second for the 2006 Le Mans 24 Hour Race with the Frank, Marco and Emmanuel again sharing the driving.
The 2006 Le Mans 24 Hours was won by today’s featured car which finished four laps ahead of the petrol powered Pescarolo Sport C60 Hybrid driven by Rally legend Sebastian Loeb with Eric Hélary and Franck Montagny.
After Le Mans #102 was sent back to the States to compete in the American Le Mans series where it competed in four more events with Emanuele Pirro and Frank Biela sharing the car for two second place finishes at Portland and Laguna Seca.
The R10 TDI claimed two further Le Mans victories in 2007 and 2008 and every Le Mans winner between 2006 and 2011 would be diesel powered with Peugeot interrupting the Audi juggernaut with it diesel powered 908 HDI in 2009. In 2012 and 2013 Audi continued winning Le Mans with it’s diesel electric hybrid R18 e-tron quattro model.
Thanks for joining me on this “Diesel Überalles” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres”, I hope you will join me again tomorrow for another pre ’39/’45 war British Le Mans competitor designed by W.O.Bentley, that is not a Bentley. Don’t forget to come back now !