Diesel is fast - scary fast - as Audi's R10 TDI proved when it swept through the world of Le Mans and endurance racing by storm. Since then rule changes have dampened the flame somewhat, but it's still a competitive and formidable platform. This season, it's getting a full-scale upgrade with the launch of the R15 TDI Le Mans racer. Today, Audi has let loose a drool-worthy selection of close-up shots of the dry carbon fiber work, cockpit, and more in anticipation of the car's first trial by fire the legendary 12-hour race at Sebring, Florida, on March 21.

The real proving grounds for the car will be the 24 Hours of Le Mans on June 13-14, however.

Underneath the hood of the car will sit a newly developed V10 TDI engine producing more than 600hp (448kW), with a maximum torque output in excess of 774lb-ft (1,050Nm). The power unit is more compact and lighter than the twelve-cylinder engine used in the preceding R10 TDI model but innovations in turbo-charging and fuel injection simultaneously ensure improved engine response.

The aerodynamics of the car has also been carefully refined. Studying airflow around and through the car was optimized with computational fluid dynamics (CFD). Additionally, a longer wheelbase and a lighter weight make the R15 TDI significantly more agile than the R10 TDI, which should make for some good race results. For the full visual feast, check out the gallery below.

Initial testing has shown the car to be very promising. "So far the R15 TDI has performed as we expected," said Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. "Now it must also prove itself in race conditions. Sebring is a particularly hard race and is therefore perfectly suited to reveal even the smallest of weaknesses."

In the cockpits of the new R15 at Sebring will be Allan McNish, Dindo Capello and Tom Kristensen, while a second car will be manned by Lucas Luhr, Mike Rockenfeller, and Marco Werner. The two trios hope to pilot the new car to a ninth victory at the event.