Rare Opportunity: 2009 Audi R15 TDI for Sale

2009 Audi R15 TDI

This 2009 Audi R15 TDI didn’t achieve victory at Le Mans, but it’s still a fantastic piece of motorsports history.

In the automotive hobby, there are rare cars, and there are the kind of ultra-rare unicorn cars that are the stuff of legend. This 2009 Audi R15 TDI for sale on Canepa definitely falls into the later category, as it’s the only example of the Le Mans racer in private hands, and it’s also the last of Audi’s open-top race cars. Along with those  distinctions, this example — chassis number T 101 — was actually the very first version of the R15 produced, and saw action at the 12 Hours of Sebring in addition to the grueling French 24-hour race.

Unfortunately, that was an off year for Audi at the Circuit de la Sarthe, and the car took third place in class, behind a pair of Peugeot 908 HDi FAPsThat said, while it wasn’t the most successful of Audi’s modern race cars, it played a critical role in the development of the company’s successes at Le Mans. In fact, an updated version of the the R15, dubbed the R15 Plus, returned to France in 2010, and took delivered a spectacular one-two-three finish, reasserting Audi’s dominance at the event.

Of course, it goes without saying that this machine’s performance potential is so far beyond the capabilities of mere mortals, it’s not even funny. Power comes from a 5.7-liter diesel V10, which is good for 590 horsepower and a whopping 774 lb-ft of torque.

Due to the rules of Le Mans, all that poke is transferred exclusively to the rear wheels via a dual-clutch transmission. There’s nothing mentioned about it in the listing, but given the fighter-jet complexity of Prototype cars, something tells me firing it up is a little more complex than it would be with, say, an new RS7 Sportback. So I’m wondering how feasible it would be to bring this to a track day. If you have any details on that subject, please hit me up.

Somewhat unsurprisingly, there’s no listed price, but I think this baby fetch a million dollars if I fetches a dime. Curiously, while the race history seems pretty comprehensive, there’s no mention of how it long it’s been in private hands, or even how it got there in the first place. Given how special this machine is, and the bleeding-edge tech Prototype cars feature, the owner likely pulled some strings to get it, so I’d bet that story makes for fascinating reading.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen an Audi Prototype up for sale, as back in March, I posted about an R18 TDI Ultra which came up for sale. While that machine didn’t actually compete at Le Mans, a version just like it took the checkered flag at the 2011 running of the race. That listing is long gone, so it’s unclear how much it went for, but again, it can’t have been cheap. Personally, I’m beyond stoked that 2023 will see Audi return to Le Mans, and we’ll have more details on that machine early next year, so stay tuned.

Photos: Canepa

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Exciting Experiment: The Audi RS Q e-tron is Heading to Dakar

Audi RS Q e-tron

This January, the Audi RS Q e-tron prototype will enter the legendarily brutal Dakar Rally.

Back in April, we posted about how Audi was set to enter the grueling Dakar rally with an electric vehicle prototype. At the time, the only image available was a render of it under some silk. But now, Ingolstadt has ripped the cover off — and does this baby ever look like a beast. So meet the Audi RS Q e-tron, the next generation of extreme rally machines. If any green machine is going to bend the desert to its will, you can bet that this Four Ring ripper will be the one to do it.

Now, you might be wondering exactly how the Audi Sport team was planning to charge the batteries during an event which will take the drivers through some of the most inhospitable terrain on earth. Because that’s obviously the $10,000 question, and one that the engineers solved by equipping the RS Q e-tron with a TFSI engine that will serve as an onboard generator, so the 50 kW battery pack gets a constant stream of juice. While that might technically make this desert sled a hybrid, it’s safe to say that if it was operating in, say, the greater Los Angeles area, it could lose the internal combustion component all together.

Each wheel is powered by an individual motor, and when it’s completely uncorked, the RS Q e-tron is capable of a whopping 670 horsepower. In the press literature, there’s no mention of a torque figure, and at this time, it’s unclear whether the rally’s governing body will allow the rig to run at full power. Given all the rules and regulations which characterize racing at any level, it’s entirely possible that it’ll have to be governed, so the playing field can remain as even as possible.

Obviously, this is a massive undertaking, and just finishing the race would be a huge achievement. After all, lots of competitors running tried and true kit wind up stranded during Dakar, as there’s just no telling what can happen once the rally is underway. But Andreas Roos, who’s running the ambitious campaign, is clearly already proud:

Less than twelve months have passed since the project officially started. We had to begin the development while the regulations for alternatively-powered vehicles had not even been finalized yet. And all of the development took place during the Corona pandemic. You mustn’t underestimate that either. What the team has achieved so far is unique. The roll-out was a very special moment for everyone.

The 2022 Dakar Rally is set to kick off in January, and we’ll be keeping a close eye on the race to see just how well Audi’s historic entry fares against both the competition and the cruel desert sand. So stay tuned!

Photos: Audi

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Rocket Through the Trees: Onboard an Audi quattro S1

Audi quattro S1

Strap in and watch this Audi quattro S1 rip through a special stage of the FIA European Historic Rally Championship.

Since this is a site dedicated to everything Four Rings related, I’m always stoked to learn about the latest and greatest kit that the wizards of Ingolstadt are bringing to market. But while the emerging tech like e-tron GT and hot rod wagons like the MTM Avant are all well and good, there’s a special place in my heart for the ferocious rally cars that Audi built its reputation on — like the incredible quattro S1. Seriously, I wish I was cool enough to drive a killer replica, like this amazing tribute.

But while we Audi fans might talk about how just how dominating the S1 was in the World Rally Championship all the time, it’s tough for mere mortals to conceive of just how incredibly fast this machine was in that rough and tumble world. Fortunately, videos like this clip from the FIA European Historic Rally Championship exists, and while it’s not exactly like riding shotgun on stage, if it doesn’t get your blood moving, you should probably see a doctor.

This was shot on Special Stage 11 of the historic Vltava Rallye, and features Italians “Zippo” and Denis Piceno ripping down some scary-tight roads at speeds which will make your toes curl. Thanks to the pair’s teamwork, they would go on to win the stage overall, snatching victory from driver Karl Wagner’s Porsche 911 SC. But even if they hadn’t managed to claim victory, this footage would still be killer to watch. Race tracks are one thing, but can you imagine going past homes and barns at this pace?

This is exactly the kind of video which makes me want to book a class with Dirtfish, the rally school in my neck of the woods. While I’ve never been over to their facility, a brief introduction to high-performance techniques at Team O’Neil Rally School a few years back gave me a taste of what to expect, so I know it would be an absolute blast. Check out the video below, and let me know if you stumble across any awesome POV rally videos — I love these things!

Photos: YouTube

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UGUR SAHIN: ALFA ROMEO NIVOLA!

UGUR SAHIN: ALFA ROMEO NIVOLA!

Designer Ugur Sahin introduces his latest design: Alfa Romeo Nivola. It’s a modern interpretation of the legendary Alfa Romeo Stradale 33 designed by Franco Scaglione in 1967.

UGUR SAHIN: ALFA ROMEO NIVOLA!UGUR SAHIN: ALFA ROMEO NIVOLA!Our design briefing was to carefully translate the original design into a modern interpretation, while incorporating an Alfa Romeo 4C the rolling chassis. This made it possible to convert a stock donor car into something exclusive, limited and timeless…. just like the beautiful original 33! Designer Ugur Sahin, left.

A few options were considered for naming the concept, as the rich history of the Alfa Romeo brand involves many great personalities and achievements. Then after doing some deeper research I found out about the racing legend Tazio Nuvolari, nicknamed Nivola.

He epitomized courage and daring and for 30 years he amazed the racing world with his exploits on both two and four wheels resulting in several championship titles in motorcycle as well as sports car championships. For Alfa Romeo he won several world championship titles, a few Mille Miglia and Targa Florio races and, to top it off, he won the 24 Hours of Le Mans for Alfa Romeo.

Personally I was very impressed with following story of the legendary Nivola. At the Monza Grand Prix for motorcycles he crashed during practice. This resulted in two broken legs. After doctors put plaster casts on both legs he was told that it would be at least one month before he could walk again let alone race motorcycles. The next day he started the race having himself tied to his bike. He required his mechanics to hold him upright at the start of the race and to catch him at the end. The legend of Tazio Nuvolari, below, began that day when he won that race!

As I admire people who fight hard for achieving personal goals in life, I decided to name the Alfa Romeo Nivola in honor of the great Tazio Nuvolari.

The development of the Nivola came to life after I visited the Pebble Beach Concours last year in Monterey, CA. I was so impressed with the Best of Show winning Alfa 33 Stradale that I decided to try and pay homage to the Alfa Romeo brand as well as the original 33 Stradale by creating a modern interpretation of the original design.

UGUR SAHIN: ALFA ROMEO NIVOLA!As it would have been too easy just to copy the original closely, I decided to go the hard way and develop a production ready concept, based on an existing Alfa Romeo chassis. Because of the nimble size as well as the ultra-light weight of the original vehicle, it was only common sense to develop a design based on the Alfa Romeo 4C underpinnings. That created a huge challenge, as the proportions and “hard points” of the 4C chassis are quite different than the original Alfa 33 Stradale. In order to get closer to the proportions of the 33, the rear of the car was extended in order to create sleek rear fenders that extend all the way back to the edge of the rear end.

UGUR SAHIN: ALFA ROMEO NIVOLA!The Nivola concept design has been entirely developed from a stock Alfa Romeo 4C chassis scan so if there is a healthy demand, a very limited and exclusive production will be arranged with either carbon fiber or aluminum body panels.

UGUR SAHIN: ALFA ROMEO NIVOLA!For more information on the Nivola and other designs and concepts, please visit http://www.ugursahindesign.com/

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BRABHAM BT62: THE ROAD TO LE MANS!

BRABHAM BT62: THE ROAD TO LE MANS!

Brabham Automotive has confirmed that they will return to international sports car racing and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

BRABHAM BT62: THE ROAD TO LE MANS!BRABHAM BT62: THE ROAD TO LE MANS!The Adelaide-based automotive manufacturer, which last year launched the record-breaking BT62 track car, is announcing its return to Le Mans. It has committed to a factory racing team and a multi-year motorsport program with development work already under way. The team’s target is the 24 Hours of Le Mans and World Endurance Championship season in 2021/22, where it intends to enter the GTE class.

Taking the road back to Le Mans has always been a desire of Brabham Automotive but can today be confirmed for the first time. The entry will be run and be funded in-house by Brabham Automotive and commercial partners and sponsors. It will be directly linked to the Brabham BT62 Driver Development Program, making early owners of the modern Brabham track car part of the test team for Le Mans and providing top level Pro-Am racing opportunities to owners.

An extensive testing schedule aimed at developing the BT62 for high-performance endurance racing has been underway for a number of months. Brabham Automotive managing director, lead test driver and 2009 Le Mans winner David Brabham is leading it, “Returning the Brabham name to Le Mans is something I have been working on for years, so it’s fantastic to make this announcement today. Brabham Automotive only launched its first car, the BT62, in May 2018 so we have a long road to travel to earn the right to return to compete at Le Mans. That work starts now with a long-term racing commitment. We look forward to developing the BT62 and future products while building a world-class competitive race team around the leading engineering and manufacturing talent we have in the business.”

BRABHAM BT62: THE ROAD TO LE MANS!

Pierre Fillon, President of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO), promoters of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, commented, “At Le Mans, the legendary Brabham name instantly conjures up memories of an outstanding family success story. It all began in July 1967 at the only French Grand Prix to be held at the Bugatti Circuit, when three-time Formula One world champion Sir Jack Brabham took the honors in a car sporting the Brabham name. Sir Jack’s sons, Geoff and David, perpetuated the family tradition by winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1993 and 2009 respectively, both with Peugeot. For the Automobile Club de l’Ouest, the return of the Brabham name to endurance racing is therefore much more than symbolic. It demonstrates remarkable loyalty and an extraordinary competitive spirit.”

BRABHAM BT62: THE ROAD TO LE MANS!More details on the Brabham Automotive sports car program, personnel and the GTE vehicle that will eventually be homologated will be released, pending final confirmation of regulations and entries. The brand can confirm it will be an original Brabham, based on developing the BT62 chassis, which has already been designed and built to comply with modern FIA safety standards. A 5.4-litre naturally aspirated engine powers the Brabham BT62. Brabham Automotive also intends to compete in lower level series and provide customer-racing opportunities as it takes the road back to Le Mans, with more information to be made available in due course.

BRABHAM BT62: THE ROAD TO LE MANS!Commenting on the development, Dan Marks, Commercial Director Brabham Automotive, “Brabham Automotive is a racing brand so since inception we’ve always had competitive motorsport in mind. Our plan to go on the journey back to Le Mans is a statement of intent that Brabham Automotive is back and here to stay. In the BT62, we have already built an outstanding, unrestricted track car now with a road legal option. We will develop this car to make its mark in motor racing, along with new vehicles. Today is great news for us and will help put the Australian car industry back on the world stage.”

 Only seventy BT62s will be manufactured, making Brabham Automotive’s project very exclusive in nature. For more information on its racing cars and street option, please visit http://brabhamautomotive.isebox.net/

BRABHAM BT62: THE ROAD TO LE MANS!Fans will be able to follow the journey as it’s shared on social media under the hashtag, #brabhamroadtolemans

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