Audi R15 TDI arrives early ahead of race debut  

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It really is a shame that Audi has pulled out of the American and European Le Mans Series, choosing only to run its new R15 TDI Le Mans Prototype racer at this year's 12 Hours of Sebring in March and 24 Hours of Le Mans in June. All that money, effort and time to develop a replacement for one of the winningest cars in all of motorsports seems like a waste on just two races, even if they are the sport's biggest.

This image released by Audi shows the design of the new R15 TDI ahead of its track debut in March. The new diesel-powered prototype car is much more radical compared to the R10 that it replaces than that car was to the R8. The most noteworthy difference is a new front end with an elevated nose that features two supports extending down to the pavement-scraping front chin spoiler. There's clearly some F1 influence up front, though Audi opted not to switch to a closed cockpit design like Peugeot uses for its 908 HDi.

The new R15 TDI will makes its race debut on March 21 at the 12 Hours of Sebring where its predecessors, the R10 and R8, have won eight times. Two cars will be campaigned using the same driver teams as last year: defending Le Mans winners Dindo Capello (Italy), Tom Kristensen (Denmark) and Allan McNish (Scotland) in one car and Lucas Luhr, Mike Rockenfeller and Marco Werner in the second. With Acura now competing against Audi in the LMP1 class and Aston Martin joining the fray in June at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, we reiterate our sentiment that it's a damn shame the R15 TDI will only be campaigned twice.

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