/Audi R18 e-tron Ready For Its First Race

Audi R18 e-tron Ready For Its First Race

Audi R18 e tron 1 at Audi R18 e tron Ready For Its First Race

This weekend at Spa Francorchamps we will get a rough idea if Audi’s new hybrid LMP1 car is going to be a success or a complete flop. This is the first time a Le Mans sports car with diesel hybrid drive and two driven axles will compete against conventional cars, so it’s quite an occasion, both for Audi and for the rivals who are going to know what they’re up against.

Audi, as you know, has been on top of Le Mans for the past few years, and it’s all due to their boldness in introducing new, groundbreaking cars. They were the first to come up with TFSI gasoline direct injection engines for prototype race cars, and the firs to use a TDI engine. Their willingness to take risks has paid off so far.

Now they’re going to try hybrid powertrain. On the paper it should work. Audi’s history suggests it will work. But you never know.

The R18 e-tron hybird system consists of a V6 TDI engine that drives the rear axle. On the front axle, the energy is electrically recuperated and fed into a flywheel energy storage system which can return it to the front wheels during acceleration. This means that there is no mechanical link between the front and rear wheel drives. Toyota has also come up with a similar system.

Audi R18 e tron 2 at Audi R18 e tron Ready For Its First Race

The R18’s ultimate goal is to win Le Mans 24 Hour race. The Spa race will be a good warm up for that.

“We started to think about the hybridisation of a Le Mans sports car relatively soon after the first TDI successes,” reveals Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. “A concrete opportunity for this materialized when it became clear that the regulations would be permitting such an option.” In 2008, the Le Mans organiser ACO announced this forward-thinking approach and since 2009 the regulations have expressly been allowing energy recovery systems for LMP1 cars. The complexity of the related tasks is shown by the fact that in 2012 Audi is the first automobile manufacturer to field such an LMP1 vehicle in a race.

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