Motor Sport News - - Wec Preview: Lmp -

OK, let’s get the ob­vi­ous bit out of the way. It won’t win any beauty con­tests, but Audi’s new R18 e-tron qu­at­tro will eas­ily stand out as one of the most in­ter­est­ing cars in this year’s World En­durance Cham­pi­onship.

Audi is pi­o­neer­ing a new di­rec­tion when it comes to aero­dy­nam­ics, which is what gives the sixth car to wear the R18 badge (there are other num­bers you know Audi…) it’s, erm, dis­tinc­tive look.

The new car fea­tures a re­designed mono­coque, which is slim­mer than any of the R18s pre­vi­ously. The nose is no­tice­ably thin­ner and higher to pro­mote ex­tra air­flow over and un­der the car, as well as larger ven­turi tun­nels fun­nelling air be­hind the wheel wells and into the cool­ing ducts and un­der the floor.

The heart of the R18 re­mains the same with Audi’s proven four-litre V6 turbo diesel pow­er­plant, but it has been tweaked to pro­duce 514bhp, de­spite the new fuel lim­i­ta­tion rules (the 2015 en­gine had around 558bhp).

Audi has also adopted a new hy­brid con­cept and in­stalled a lithium-ion bat­tery to move the new R18 into the sixmega­joule class. Audi has fit­ted a more pow­er­ful front-mounted elec­tric mo­tor and will re­cover ki­netic energy from the front axle only. Audi es­ti­mates its new sys­tem to be worth around 469bhp.

Audi Sport tech­ni­cal di­rec­tor Jorg Zan­der said the move from a fly­wheel stor­age sys­tem to a bat­tery, com­bined with a smaller mono­coque, was a big chal­lenge: “A bat­tery re­quires much more vol­ume than a me­chan­i­cal sys­tem. We also have a much larger mo­tor-gen­er­a­tor unit. To make the car per­form aero­dy­nam­i­cally bet­ter and more ef­fi­ciently, we had to re­duce the over­all size of the mono­coque within the reg­u­la­tions. It was a very big task to make sure we got good, func­tional pack­ag­ing of the car.

“The fuel flow [per lap at Le Mans] is be­ing re­duced by about 10 per cent, which means you are los­ing power. The idea is to main­tain power with re­duced flow and I think we have achieved that. The en­gine still has very good power.”

The new mono­coque has also ne­ces­si­tated re­vised front sus­pen­sion mount­ing points and wish­bones.

Audi’s en­gi­neers have worked hard to strike an even weight bal­ance in the new R18 too. The gear­box now fea­tures six gears in­stead of seven as part of their weight-sav­ing mis­sion and the nu­mer­ous old elec­tronic ac­tu­a­tors that con­trolled in­di­vid­ual el­e­ments of the R18’s sys­tems – such as the brak­ing, trans­mis­sion and ECU – have been re­placed in favour of a new high­pres­sure hy­draulic sys­tem.

The re­sults mean that the new R18 tips the scales at ex­actly the min­i­mum re­quired weight of 875kg.


Ken Miles/lloyd Ruby (MKI) Ken Miles/lloyd Ruby (MKII) Ken Miles/lloyd Ruby (X1 MKII road­ster) Bruce Mclaren/chris Amon (MKII) Mario An­dretti/bruce Mclaren (MKIV) Jacky Ickx/richard Thomp­son (Mi­rage M1) Dan Gur­ney/aj Foyt (MKIV) Jacky Ickx/brian Red­man (MKI) Paul Hawkins/david Hobbs (MKI) Jacky Ickx/brian Red­man (MKI) Jacky Ickx/ Lu­cien Bianchi (MKI) Pe­dro Ro­driguez/lu­cien Bianchi (MKI) Jacky Ickx/jackie Oliver (MKI) Jacky Ickx/jackie Oliver (MKI)

Ig­nore the face, it will have pace Audi’s bold aero de­sign

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