2015 Audi R18 testing at Sebring

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Audi Sport’s latest R18 e-tron quattro LMP1-Hybrid challenger broke cover during private testing at Sebring international Raceway this week. The 2014 Le Mans winners are getting ready for their assault on the 2015 World Endurance Championship, starting with the 12 Hours of Sebring March 18-21. The complete driver lineup came to test the “RP5,” the fifth-generation R18, around the 3.7-mile course. They quickly broke the official track record of 1 minute 43.8 seconds, which Audi set during the 2013 race. The car reportedly turned laps in the low 1:42 range.

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The new R18’s most noticeable difference compared to the fourth-generation car is the reconfigured aerodynamics. The new nose is hugely different from anything Audi has raced since the brand began racing prototypes in 1999 — almost a Formula 1 car with fenders and a windshield. The ducted front wheel covers serve as incredibly long turning vanes. The nose is sharper and the sidepods, engine cover and rear bodywork are all new. More details on the R18, its hybrid engine, and more are to come later this month…presumably after the team wins the 12 Hours.

Testing continues into the weekend, as the team hopes to put 4,000 miles on the odometer. On Wednesday the car ran almost constantly 9 a.m. to 10 p.m., including several long stints in 80-degree temperatures. Showing both speed and durability, the Audi R18 presents competitors with a difficult challenge.