Audi’s R18 TDI-hybrid Racer May Be a Defeat Device — Against Competitors, That Is

With the VW Group’s diesel scandal yet making news, this does not mean TDI tech is being abandoned, but in the world of racing it may yet reign supreme.

That said, many people will still sniff when they catch wind of a new Audi TDI, but this turbo-diesel-hybrid R18 comes with a big exemption clause.

Audi’s newest screamer need not worry about EU and U.S. road emission rules, because this vehicle is a closed course LMP1 weapon of choice where emissions, while not utterly ignored, do take a back seat to speed.

The R18 is set to compete in the Le Mans 24 Hours and FIA World Endurance Championship and is not designed to cheat, but to beat other LMP1 race cars.

The TDI hybrid uses li-ion batteries and two of the R18s will to be driven by Audi Sport Team Joest will run at the UK’s Silverstone on April 17.

Audi said “in the interest of maximum cost efficiency, Audi and its Group sister brand Porsche, have both agreed to each compete in the Le Mans 24 Hours, the WEC season’s pinnacle event, with only two instead of the most recent three cars.”

The automaker also announced other 2016 season racing plans with its DTM lineup of drivers the same. All of the team’s eight drivers from 2015 will return next season however Adrien Tambay and Nico Müller are changing places on respective teams.

“With our new Audi R18, we’re setting a clear signal: Audi continues to put the pedal to the metal in motorsport, deliberately relying on TDI – the world’s most successful automotive efficiency technology – at Le Mans,” said Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich.

Following is a video of a $30 million, Le Mans-winning 2014 version of the AWD R18 e-tron (starts at 2:50).