Audi steps up a hy­brid class with rad­i­cal R18 as it aims to take the fight to ri­val Porsche

Motor Sport News - - Racing News -

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.

The new R18 uses a new chas­sis, aero and hy­brid con­cept

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