Audi has unveiled their challenger for the 2014 Le Mans 24 Hours Endurance race – the R18 e-tron Quattro, which will be Audi’s weapon of choice against the LMP1 machines from Toyota and Porsche in this year’s World Endurance Championship (WEC) . The team performed a shakedown with the new R18 on the streets of France, with Le Mans legend, Tom Kristensen driving the diesel hybrid race machine from the Saint-Julien du Mans cathedral in the city centre to the Le Mans race track in France.
The new R18 sports a distinctive white, black and gray scheme similar to its iconic ‘Quattro’ colours. The V6 TDI power plant where the engine’s capacity has been increased from 3.7-litre to 4.0-litre to optimize engine efficiency. On the energy recovery systems, Audi decided to compete in the class of up to two megajoules of recuperation energy at Le Mans. The energy exclusively flows through a motor generator unit (MGU) at the front axle and is stored in a flywheel energy storage system.
“We opted for this concept following extensive testing,” says Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. “In our opinion, it provides the optimum balance between efficient energy use, size, weight, energy conversion efficiency, responsiveness, drivability and a favorable operating strategy combined with durability, which is the basic prerequisite for success at Le Mans.”
Audi’s challenge in the WEC will be spearheaded by top endurance drivers such as Tom Kristensen, Loic Duval, Lucas di Grassi, Andre Lotterer, Benoit Trelyer and Marcel Fassler. Oliver Jarvis, Marco Bonanomi and Filipe Albuquerque are also listed to compete in the third car only at the Le Mans 24 hours race.
The first race of the WEC begins on April 20 at the 6 Hours of Silverstone race in the UK.