The company hasn't worked with a clamshell since 1999, and such a move is likely to has more than a little to do with Peugeot's 2009 Le Mans win. That victory is the only wrinkle in the Audi's domination of the world's most difficult motorsports race, and it's no small coincidence that work on the R18 began in mid 2009.
The R18 derives its power from a 3.7-liter TDI V6 engine, and Audi has not given any details about the horsepower or torque the diesel unit produce. Another new development is the six-speed transmission in the R18 which has been specifically modified for use with the smaller engine. Audi used a single-piece construction carbon fiber monocoque to keep weight down and increase stiffness. Those epic all-LED headlights are the first make their way to Le Mans., and were developed in close cooperation between Audi Sport and the Technical Development (TE) division of AUDI AG.
The racing debut of the Audi R18 is planned for the Spa-Francorchamps (Belgium) 6 Hours on May 8. Prior to the event, the new prototype will be able to do its first laps on the race track at Le Mans during the official test day on April 24 and gather important data for the race on June 11 and 12.