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Audi R18 TDI in full livery testing at Paul Ricard - Click above for high-res image gallery

The domination of racing teams and the factories that support them wax and wane across countless motorsports disciplines around the world from year to year. But arguably none has continued to dominate like Audi at Le Mans. Since the turn of the millennium, Audi has won the iconic French endurance race every year but two: In 2003 when its own sister company Bentley took top honors, and in 2009, when its chief rival, Peugeot took the win.

Audi has introduced a succession of sports prototype racers to uphold its honor, from the original R8 through the R10 TDI and the R15 TDI that won last year. The latest is the closed-cockpit R18 TDI, which the German automaker has yet to field in an actual race but which has now undergone its first test sessions in the full battle livery you see here.

The trio of silver and black racers will again be differentiated by the red, yellow and black highlights, and feature a number of body parts crafted from carbon fiber, giving the R18 TDI a lightweight form on which Audi is banking to fend off Peugeot, which started off the season strong by defeating the outgoing R15 at Sebring.

Will the new R18 prove capable of shutting out its French rivals for the title event at Le Mans this coming June? We'll have to wait and see, but with the preliminary test sessions at the Circuit de la Sarthe reinstituted this past weekend after a two-year absence, the Audis were on top of the time sheets, the Peugeots only narrowly beating out the third of them. Follow the jump for press releases from the Paul Ricard and La Sarthe test sessions and take a closer look in the high-resolution image gallery below.

Gallery: 2011 Audi R18 TDI (final livery)

[Source: Audi]Continue reading Audi R18 TDI debuts in full race livery for ahead of Le Mans

Audi R18 TDI debuts in full race livery for ahead of Le Mans originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 26 Apr 2011
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