Audi has unveiled an experimental long-tail version of its R18 e-tron quattro hybrid sports car that could race at the Le Mans 24 Hours this year. The car will be raced at Spa during the second round of the World Endurance Championship next month.
Marc Gene, Lucas di Grassi and Oliver Jarvis will drive the long-tail R18, while the other two crews will continue to race the standard-spec car that competed at the opening round of the WEC at Silverstone.
The long-tail R18 has been optimized for the high speeds of the Le Mans straights. The German manufacturer will use the Spa race as a test to compare the performance between the two cars.
"The comparison, however, is not focused on absolute lap times. Instead, the team will analyse the time differences to be expected between both models on individual track sectors," said Audi in a statement.
Audi motorsport chief Wolfgang Ullrich said: "We thoroughly reviewed the first race of the season and accomplished our tasks in order to be well prepared for the second round of the WEC.
"Fielding the Le Mans aero variant on the third vehicle that hasn't been optimized for the lap times at Spa is an important element of the preparation for the 24-hour race."
Audi won the opening round of the WEC with Loic Duval, Tom Kristensen and Allan McNish. The final car will again be driven at Spa by WEC champions Marcel Fassler, Andre Lotterer and Benoit Treluyer.