Audi took the wraps off their new hybrid Le Mans racer, the R18 e-tron Quattro.
When Toyota announced their return to Le Mans racing with a hybrid LMP1 car, Audi felt the need for a drastic move. So they went into the factory and made a diesel-powered R18 equipped with a similar hybrid system.
So this is the first LMP1 car ever to features a highly-efficient TDI, a hybrid system, and quattro all-wheel-drive system.
The diesel engine in this car is tiny compared to the previous car’s engine. It’s a V6 TDI power plant producing 375 kW (510 hp) which powers the rear wheels. Kinetic energy is then recovered on the front axle during the braking phase. It is fed as electric into a flywheel accumulator before being retrieved under acceleration again above a speed of 120 km/h. During this procedure only the front axle is integrated.
This is how they managed to keep the weight low in spite of all the technology crammed into the car.
The R18 e-tron makes its race debut on May 5 in the 6-hour race at Spa-Francorchamps (Belgium) and fights for overall victory at the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans (France) on June 16/17. Similar hybrid systems are being considered for Audi’s road-going production cars.