The second full day of testing ahead of the 14th annual Petit Le Mans was held yesterday during a four hour testing session. Romain Dumas set the fastest time of the session during his second to last lap in the #1 Audi Sport Team Joest R18 TDI with a lap time of 1:08.394.
Testing kicked off Sunday at Road Atlanta ahead of the 1,000-mile/10-hour Petit Le Mans enduro set to run on Saturday, October 1st. The pair of diesel powered factory-backed Peugeot 908s topped the fast lap time charts, finishing 1-2 ahead of the two Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R18 TDIs.
The 14th annual Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta is just 9 days away and the entry list is more impressive than ever. The 1,000 mile/10-hour enduro is the final round of the 2011 American Le Mans Series and the penultimate round of the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup. Because of the strong participation in the ILMC this year, many international teams that aren’t seen during the regular season have entered this year’s event. As it stands now, 58 cars will fight for 53 starting grid positions.
Though there were many stories to come out of the 2011 Le Mans testing day, all eyes were on the Audisport with their new R18 prototype and Peugeot with their new 908. This was the first time these two Le Mans juggernauts were on track at the same time with their two new protype racers. Audi’s R18 was consistantly faster in testing than the the new Peugeot 908 with Audi Sport North America’s Tom Kristensen setting the quickest overall lap of 3:27.687 in the #3 R18. Stephane Sarrazin ran the best time for Peugeot with a 3:27.876.
Due to the new regulations imposed by the ACO with more focus on aerodynamics and less on power, the best laptimes were almost 9 seconds off from the 2011 pole time of 3:18.711 set by Sebastien Bourdais in the Peugeot 908 HDi FAP.
The first race pitting the Audi R18 and Peugeot 908 head-to-head happens May 7th at the 1000 Kilometres of Spa-Francorchamp, which is also the second round of the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup. Given that both teams were relatively close in Le Mans testing, the first race should be an exciting one.
RESULTS: Session 1: 1: Audi R18 TDI no.1, 3’27’’900, 50 laps 2: Audi R18 TD1 no.2, 3’28’’503, 38 laps 3: Audi R18 TD1 no.3, 3’30’’382, 45 laps 4: Peugeot 908 no.8 (Sarrazin, Davidson), 3’30”516, 43 laps 5: Peugeot 908 no.7 (Minassian, Gene), 3’32”549, 59 laps 6: Peugeot 908 no.9 (Wurz, Bourdais), 3’32”578, 32 laps
Full Audi R18 Le Mans Test Day Photo Gallery After The Jump
After a 2010 Le Mans season that Audi Sport would rather forget, they are back for 2011 with this all-new Audi R18 TDI prototype. Powered by a 3.7-liter V6 TDI, Audi hopes that the diesel powered R18 does a much better job fighting the Peugeots off than the R15 and R15 Plus did. Audi says that the chassis and aerodynamics package contains the best features and know-how of the R8, R10 TDI and R15 TDI. As with the Acura prototypes, Audi has fitted the R18 with identically sized front and rear wheels. Audi says this helps maintain a more balanced weight distribution.
Audi will field three Audi R18 cars at Le Mans under Audi Sport Team Joest, as well as campaigning the R18 in the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup for a total of seven endurance races in 2011. Because the car is still very much under development, Audi will be sending two R15 TDI Plus cars to Sebring to compete in the first round of the ILMC, and plans are for the R18 to make its debut at the Spa-Francorchamps 6 hour endurance on May 8th, 2011. The R18 TDI will make it’s only North American appearance for 2011 at Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta on October 1st, 2011.
We wish the Audi Sport team all the luck and congratulate them on building this absolutely sinister looking prototype. We can’t wait to see the R18 TDI run at Petit Le Mans next year!