Audi believes it is heading into this year's Le Mans 24 Hours with a much better chance of victory than 12 months ago, when Peugeot dominated the event.
The German manufacturer has an upgraded version of the R15 TDi this year, dubbed the "R15 plus." The car has covered more than 25,000 miles of testing this season, including two 30-hour runs, and the team's technical director Ralf Juttner is confident that it will arrive at Le Sarthe much better prepared than in 2009.
"Our preparations went well, everything worked out as planned," Juttner said. "Consequently, the pre-race phase was clearly more relaxed than it was last year, which will hopefully benefit us at Le Mans. This year, everything was finished as early as it should be before a race at Le Mans. During our most recent test we again found a few things so that we're now traveling westward with optimism.
"On Wednesday and Thursday, we'll concentrate on the race as we usually do. The additional practice time will no doubt be helpful but has already been totally filled with planned activities. We've still got enough on our agenda that we want to do and have to do."
Feature of the R15 plus include a remodeled radiator package and cockpit to increase top speed and additional headlights to improve the drivers' vision at night. Dindo Capello reckons the changes will help the team to make up ground to Peugeot, which heads into this weekend's event as the slight favorite.
"Last year, the compromise between setup and aerodynamics was our main problem," he admitted. "That was changed and the improvements are notable. The engine specialists have done a great job, too. Despite the restrictions we've got almost the same power as last year and are not suffering that much from the rule changes in this area.
"I think the R15 TDi accelerates even better this year. Well done to the engineers: they really did a superb job this winter – by the way, that goes for the design too, which surprised many people. I received a large number of e-mails and letters from motorsport fans who are just as thrilled with the new design as I am."