For years, Le Mans 24 Hours has served as a benchmark for sporty yet reliable cars. Audi R series had the honor of winning most of the competitions year after year, including the recent win of Audi R18 TDI this year. Car companies like Peugeot and Toyota have been looking to step up the competition by introducing their hybrid models. Peugeot is set to launch its 908 Hybrid 4, and Toyota also will have a hybrid challenger for 2012 Le Mans 24 Hours. According to the rumor, Audi’s answer to this will be a new R18 prototype that was spotted while testing at Sebring.
The R18 seems to be rehearsing for the FIA World Endurance Championship, early next year. The pictures reveal some significant changes in the vehicle with the possibility of a hybrid powertrain lurking under the skin. The car is also rumored to get a completely new monocoque with the aim of improving visibility. The suspension is believed to be redesigned to increase the mechanical grip as well as handle higher speeds. The meta tags on the car were labeled as R18H, which gives a strong backing to the rumor. The way they are testing with the new R18 in open makes us believe there might be an official announcement about the car by Audi soon. In case, the rumor is true we might see the hybrid beast from Audi at the FIA World Endurance Championship. With Peugeot, Toyota and probably (as of yet) Audi bringing their hybrid versions to the competition will surely make next year’s Le Mans much more interesting.