The name sounds familiar, but the technology is completely new. In 2014, Audi is aiming to achieve a hat-trick in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) and another Le Mans 24 Hours success with this, the Audi R18 e-tron quattro LMP1 race car.
The 2014 R18 e-tron is the most complex race car ever built by Audi. At first glance, it appears like a development of the current WEC winning car, but due to the new LMP1 regulations that will come into effect next year, Audi Sport redeveloped every single component.
With the new R18, Audi has opted for a similar concept as in the past, but with innovative detailed solutions and an additional hybrid system. Changes include a further developed V6 TDI mid-engine (powering the rear wheels), an e-tron quattro hybrid system at the front axle (with ERS-K, Energy Recovery System Kinetic), and an optimised flywheel energy storage system.
There’s also a hybrid system with an electric turbocharger in the internal combustion engine, combined with ERS-H (Energy Recovery System Heat), a system that stores energy converted from heat. All these are needed for the new R18 to make do with up to 30% less fuel than its predecessor.
The aerodynamics have been changed too, according to the new rules. The 10 cm slimmer body of the new LMP1 car and slimmer wheels reduce aerodynamic drag. This is contrasted by a higher car and larger cockpit dimensions, which don’t make the car more slippery.
For the front end, the engineers enjoyed more freedom. Instead of a diffuser, a genuine front wing with a flap may be used for the first time. This promises aero advantages and lower costs, as it will be easier to modify this part to suit various tracks. On the other hand, greater limits have been imposed on the rear end – use of exhaust gas in the area of the rear diffuser is now prohibited.
The new Audi R18 e-tron quattro will be making its racing debut in the six-hour race at Silverstone on April 20, 2014, but the highlight of the WEC will be the Le Mans 24 Hours in June.