2006 Audi R10 TDI Pilots: F. Biela, E. Pirro, M. Werner Team: Audi Sport Team Joest Race: 1st overall (LMP1 class) at Le Mans in 2006 Minichamps - 5020601023 (diecast)
Beginning in 2000, Audi started to dominate Le Mans with the R8. To the point that after five wins, the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) demanded that for 2006 the R8 should carry ballast and use bigger air restrictors in order to level the playing field. However, Ingolstadt was secretly working on the successor to the R8 since 2003, and in December of 2005 the R10 was ready. The chassis developed (again) by Dallara was a carbon fiber monocoque with an aluminum honeycomb core and used the engine as a structural component. Because of the new bigger engine, the car had a longer wheelbase than the R8. But in general terms the new car looked very much alike it’s predecessor.
But what truly set the R10 in a different league was it’s diesel engine. Why diesel? Basically because, at the time, FIA started to encourage the use of alternative fuels. Also, Audi wanted to show the world that a diesel engine could be high-tech enough to even win at the most prestigious race in automotive sports. It also was a publicity stunt. Audi would prove to potential customers that it was so much ahead of the competition that they could win at Le Mans again. And even with a totally new diesel engine.
So the new engine was a 5499 cm³ V12 boosted by two parallel turbochargers. It counted on Turbocharged Direct Injection (TDI) technology, DOHC and 48 valves. Usually diesel engines have a steel engine block, but to save weight the engineering team boldly used aluminum. Audi created a engineering masterpiece. The engine was good enough for 650 hp and a whopping 112,1 mkgf of torque at just 3000 rpm. To control all those horses, the R10 had an XTrac sequential gearbox with only five speeds.