Audi's new R18 TDI prototype Le Mans car will take part in its first race this weekend, with a 'dress rehearsal' at the Spa 1000km race.
The team will use the chance to try out its all-new car and V6 TDI engine in anger whilst competitor Aston Martin has to decided to sit the Spa race out after its embarrassing Le Mans test day last month.
With a bumper 60-car field there will be a number of other Le Mans contenders on the track with the Audi on 7 May.
Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ulrich said: "Spa gives us a first assessment of where we stand compared with the competition. For us the 1000-kilometre race is a very important preparatory race for the 2011 Le Mans 24 Hours."
Audi's recent run of Le Mans success began in 2000 with the R8 racing car, which proved to be one of the most formidable endurance cars in history.
Indeed, since 2000 every Audi prototype car has won its first race, so the pressure is on for the team to deliver a successful result with the R18's first trip out on the track. The last new car was the R15 TDI in 2009.
Two-time Le Mans winner Allan McNish is particularly looking forward to trying the new car out: "I'm always particularly keen on going to Spa. With a new car like the R18 TDI the race will be very interesting for us and the fans," he said.
Aston Martin suffered from engine problems with its new LMP1 car during the Le Mans test day with minimal running possible.
The team has announced that it will be missing the Spa race to focus instead on developing its car ahead of the Le Mans race next month.
The Le Mans 24-Hours takes place on 11 June.