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Rivals query Audi R15 legality

Audi R15 TDI, Sebring 12 Hours 2009The eligibility of the Sebring 12 Hours-winning Audi R15 TDI has been questioned by the German manufacturer's rivals, this week's AUTOSPORT magazine reveals.

Peugeot, Aston Martin Racing and ORECA are among the teams seeking a rules clarification on key elements of the radical R15. They have questioned the way Audi has used the bodywork for aerodynamic effect.

The key area of the R15 under discussion is the front aero package and, in particular, a flap above the front splitter. Audi's rivals claim this constitutes as aerodynamic element and is therefore contrary to the regulations.

The LMP1 regulations state that "with the exception of the rear wing... no bodywork or underbody element having a wing profile is permitted". Audi's rival believe that the splitter element contravenes this regulation.

Aston Martin Racing team principal George Howard-Chappell said: "It looks like it acts exactly like a flap on a wing, with the splitter arrangement acting as the main plane."

Openings on the engine cover and some of the ducting at the side of the car have also been called in question.

"The question is what constitutes an aerodynamic opening and what constitutes a radiator duct?" said Howard-Chappell.

Peugeot is pushing for changes to the R15, despite the car passing scrutineering at Sebring.

"We do not have the same interpretation of the rules as Audi," said Peugeot Sport team manager Serge Saulnier. "I do not think this issue is closed."

A clarification of the rule is imminent, according to Remy Brouard, the new director-general of Le Mans organiser the Automobile Club de l'Ouest.

"We are speaking with everyone, Audi, Peugeot and Acura, to try to clarify these points," he said. "It is the same with any rulebook."

Asked if the ACO could force Audi to modify the R15, Brouard replied: "I cannot answer that question."

It is understood that Audi has rejected overtures from the ACO to make revisions. It has argued that the car was homologated ahead of Sebring and therefore is clear to race in that form.

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