AUDI AG says it will become the world's first automobile manufacturer to have a shot at winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans with a diesel engine. The all-new Audi R10, which was unveiled on Tuesday in Paris, is powered by a new 5.5-litre, 12-cylinder bi-turbo TDI engine. The Le Mans Prototype, with over 650 hp and more than 1,100 Newton meters torque, significantly exceeds the power produced by the majority of previous Audi racing cars--including that of its victorious R8 predecessor. Audi ventures into previously unexplored diesel-engine terrain with the V12 power plant manufactured completely from aluminum. Audi hopes to use the technology in mass-production cars. The R10 prototype's V12 power unit is equipped with two diesel particle filters. The engine's power and enormous torque are available to the driver practically from idling speed - a characteristic of diesel technology - with the usable power band between 3000 and 5000 revs per minute, much lower than racing gas engines. The driver must change gear in the R10 far less often than in the R8 because of the TDI engine's favorable torque curve. Something else unfamiliar to the drivers will be the low noise level and, unique for a racing engine, its smooth running. At high speeds the 650 hp engine cannot be heard from the Audi R10 prototype's "open" cockpit while there is hardly any vibration. The new Audi R10 completed its first test at the end of November. An extensive test program, including the 12-hour race at Sebring (USA) on 18 March, is scheduled before the 24 Hours of Le Mans on 17/18 June 2006.
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