Audi to Run Three R18 e-tron quattro Cars at Le Mans

The three R18 e-tron cars with an electrically driven front axle were the fastest racers in the 2013 Le Mans field throughout the entire race.

Le Mans organizer ACO has accepted Audi’s three entries for the Le Mans 24 Hours. Lucas di Grassi (BR) together with last year’s winners Loïc Duval (F) and Tom Kristensen (DK) will compete in car number 1 against a field that will present formidable competition from Toyota and a newly returned Porsche among others in the fastest, most expensive P1 class. 

The number 2 Audi R18 e-tron quattro will be driven by Marcel Fässler/André Lotterer/Benoît Tréluyer (CH/D/F), who won the endurance classic with Audi in 2011 and 2012. Car number 3 will be driven by Filipe Albuquerque/Marco Bonanomi/Oliver Jarvis (P/I/GB). Audi with its newly designed hybrid sports car is aiming for its 13th victory in the Le Mans 24 Hours on June 14 and15.

The Technical Regulations for 2014-specification LMP1 sports cars has 20 chapters with 67 pages, divided into detailed sections and a comprehensive index. Audi relies on a hybrid system in which the kinetic energy is recovered at the front axle and fed back into the system.

“Back in November, the manufacturers had to submit initial documents for an advance homologation,” says Head of Audi Motorsport Wolfgang Ullrich. “This allowed the FIA and ACO to gain an initial impression of the planned concept.”

The so-called homologation sheet of the Audi R18 e-tron quattro has 75 pages – more than any of its predecessors. “The level of detailing is the reason,” explains Martin Mühlmeier, Head of Technology at Audi Sport. “The homologation documents put new emphasis on areas such as safety-relevant components, the powertrain and the energy systems.”

LMP regulations include the possibility to homologate various body versions. During the course of the season, additional variations in the sense of an evolution may be subjected to post-homologation.

“In contrast, the class rating which specifies the permitted amount of hybrid energy, the operation principle of the hybrid system, the type of fuel used by the internal combustion engine and the output and consumption window may not be changed anymore,” says Mühlmeier.

n 2012, Audi became the first manufacturer to win the Le Mans 24 Hours and the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) with a four-wheel-drive LMP1 sports car. The four-wheel drive, the R18 has won ten WEC rounds to date including the 2012 and 2013 Le Mans 24 Hours plus the WEC World Champion’s titles in those years.

Audi had been allowed to use four-wheel drive only above 120 km/h. This year, this speed-related rule no longer applies. Four driven wheels can deliver traction advantages particularly at low speeds, for instance when the driver accelerates on exiting a tight corner.

About Ken Zino

Ken Zino is an auto industry veteran with global experience in print, broadcast and electronic media. He has auto testing, marketing, public relations and communications expertise garnered while working in Asia, Europe and the U.S.
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