Audi steps up a hybrid class with radical R18 as it aims to take the fight to rival Porsche
Audi will run in the six megajoule hybrid class of this year’s FIA World Endurance Championship after making radical changes to its new R18 e-tron quattro.
The new machine is the sixth different LMP1 variant to wear the R18 badge, and differs greatly from its predecessors thanks to a fundamental change in hybrid design and functionality.
Audi has followed the example set by Porsche and opted or a lithium ion battery energy storage system, ditching its traditional flywheel energy storage system. The switch to battery storage has allowed Audi to run in the 6MJ class, one category below both Porsche and Toyota, but the additional torque and efficiency of Audi’s four-litre turbo-diesel V6 engine is thought to negate much of that difference. The new R18 recovers its energy via a KERS system on the front axle.
Audi’s hybrid systems are now rated to be worth 469bhp, as opposed to the 272bhp the hybrid system on last year’s car produced.
Audi Sport boss Wolfgang Ullrich said: “It is a brand new car from the monocoque to the hybrid system to the engine. Everything is new and focused on being competitive and more efficient.”
Audi’s new chassis also features a smaller monocoque. Audi Sport technical director Jorg Zander said packaging the larger battery system into the smaller chassis was a challenge.
“We went from a mechanical [flywheel] system to an electrochemical system, and a batter requires much more volume,” said Zander. “We also have to have a much larger motor-generator unit. On the other hand, to make the car perform aerodynamically better, we had to reduce the size of the monocoque. The packaging of the car was a big task.
“Thanks to the new proportions, the new Audi R18 directs airflow even more effectively.”
Marcel Fassler/benoit Treluyer/andre Lotterer and Oliver Jarvis/lucas di Grassi/ Loic Duval will crew the two cars.