April 11, 2000

Ricardo Gears Up for Audi Le Mans Challenge

BELLEVILLE, Mich., April 10 Ricardo is again the technology partner for supplying a state-of-the-art transmission for Audi's R8 "open top" roadsters entered for the Le Mans 24-hour race in June.

The longitudinally installed six-speed transaxle with sequential gear selection has benefited from lessons learnt in the grueling 1999 race, which was Audi's first ever outing at Le Mans. Although similar in concept, the 2000 transmission has had virtually every part re-designed to ensure optimum performance for this year's race. Working closely with the Audi team, Ricardo engineers have also for the first time helped to design and produce the gearbox casing.

Last year saw the Audi team accomplish a credible 3rd and 4th place. This year, the company has set even greater goals. In addition to challenging for the Le Mans 24-hour title, Audi has also for the first time entered the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) championship starting with a magnificent 1-2 placing at the Sebring 12-hour endurance race in Florida on March 18.

Last year Audi finished third and fifth in its maiden race at Sebring and then went on to record its third and fourth places in the French "classic" -- the only two events contested by the company in 1999.

"We are delighted to continue supporting Audi as they aim for even greater achievements," said Mark Barge, Ricardo's director of motorsport. "We faced new and complex challenges this year including the need to reduce the overall weight of the transmission and casings, but were able to meet Audi's targets by using advanced 'optimization' software and cutting-edge transmission technology."

The Audi transmissions and casings are being engineered, manufactured and hand assembled at Ricardo's Midlands Technical Center in Leamington Spa, UK.

Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, head of Audi Sport comments: "Our entry for the first time ever for the entire ALMS championship series will seriously test the R8's performance and endurance capabilities. However we want to achieve a place in the top three. The efficiency and durability of the transmission, therefore, is of real importance to our success."

The new R8 is powered by a twin-turbocharged, 3.6-liter V8 engine producing around 610-bhp.

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