2010 Audi R15 TDI+ #9 Pilots: M. Rockenfeller, R. Dumas, T. Bernhard Team: Audi Sport North America Race: 1st overall (LMP1) at Le Mans in 2010 Ixo - LM2010 (diecast)
First seen in December of 2005, the diesel-powered Audi R10 was a winner. Maybe not as successful as the previous R8, it did when at Le Mans in 2006, 2007 and 2008. However, it was getting long in the tooth and by 2008 the Peugeot 908 showed great promise. That being so, Audi needed something sharper and fresh – the R15. The new R15, though looking very similar to its predecessor, was at heart a totally different beast. Possibly the biggest difference was the engine, though still a diesel TDI unit. Despite having the same 5500 cm³, the new engine was a V10 instead of a V12. Another major difference was an emphasis on aerodynamics, which in fact became a problem. For 2009, due to financial reasons, Audi had to tighten their racing budget. That meant less testing for the R15, which was crucial to the car’s aerodynamic package.
As a result, the R15 wasn’t 100% ready, and at the 24 Heures du Mans Peugeot had a field day. For 2010 something had to be done, and Audi came up with the R15 TDI+. The TDI+ was in essence the same R15, sharing most of the same chassis and mechanicals. Nevertheless, there were 20 important changes made, especially to aerodynamics. The biggest difference was that now most of the air scooped up the front went over and around instead of through the car. Bottom line, the new TDI+ was aerodynamically simpler however more efficient than the previous R15. And at La Sarthe that counts as much as overall speed. Audi went to Le Mans with three R15 TDI+ in two factory-backed teams. After 24 hours the three cars filled the podium, with R15 TDI+ #9 coming in first place.
In the end all the effort on the TDI+ payed off and the R15 scored one win at La Sarthe. Consequently, it is an important model for the W-143 Garage. I bought one in 2017 from Altaya, but as expected, it’s not good enough. Well, maybe back then it was good enough, but it definitively is not nowadays… I was aiming for a Spark upgrade, but this is another of those models that became rare. Even the Ixo version is hard to find. So, the Spark is rare (and expensive) and my R15 prototype from Ixo is awesome. That being so, I jumped on this one (and for an honest price). Just like the prototype, it is VERY well detailed, to the point that I wonder if one needs the Spark. However, just don’t wait too long to grab whichever one you think is best.