It’s been completely redesigned, though the name is the same. Audi’s R18 e-tron quattro returns to the LMP1 class at Le Mans next year. This high-tech hybrid Le Mans prototype has been completely redesigned, and Audi hopes to continue its successful streak.
The all-wheel drive racer is powered by a TDI V6 that drives the rear wheels and a unique hybrid-electric motor that powers the front wheels. The new R18 e-tron also uses a new kinetic-energy recovery system and the turbocharger’s rotation to help recharge its batteries. A flywheel energy storage system captures the electricity. Audi claims a 30 percent improvement in fuel economy. Economy can be more significant on the track than you’d expect, especially in a 24-hour endurance race like Le Mans.
“The next Audi R18 e-tron quattro represents a completely new generation of Le Mans prototypes,” explains Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. “The principles of the LMP1 regulations have fundamentally changed. The idea behind this is to achieve similarly fast lap times as in the past with considerably less energy. Making more out of less: a forward-thinking approach.”
New regulations necessitated a redesign of the body as well. The new R18 is ten centimeters narrower and twenty millimeters taller, as well as riding on narrower tires. Extensive testing has been done to update the aerodynamics to the new design. The R18’s body has been redesigned with stronger driver protection, and new wheel tethers prevent the heavy wheels from flying off in the event of a serious accident.
The new R18 makes its debut in the six-hour race at Silverstone in Great Britain, in April.