Audi Press Release
- Spectacular drive in public traffic of Le Mans
- Fresh graphics and more cubic capacity for higher efficiency
- Concept decision followed extensive testing
Ingolstadt, March 25, 2014 – Audi began the 2014 WEC season with a spectacular appearance. The new Audi R18 e-tron quattro did not do its initial kilometers at Le Mans on the legendary race track in Western France but in public traffic. Audi factory driver Tom Kristensen, with nine victories under his belt the record holder of the Le Mans 24 Hours, drove the diesel hybrid sports car from the Saint-Julien du Mans cathedral in the city center to the famous race track.
Aside from the unusual drive which brought back memories of a Le Mans era from the distant past when the drivers would arrive in their own race cars, Audi surprised the public with a new livery of the Le Mans car. While the body of the new R18 e-tron quattro was still black with red details when the car made its world debut in December, a striking color scheme now catches the eye. The new color scheme of white, silver, red and black stands for fresh, expressive graphics. “The colors are symbolic,” explains Dirk van Braeckel, Design Manager Motorsport and Special Projects at Audi. “Silver emphasizes the past success in racing. As a very quiet color, it provides the base for our livery. White, as the second color, harmonizes well with silver and appears very light. It stands for the hybrid drive. White is used asymmetrically in order to symbolize the complexity of this powertrain technology.” The contours are modeled after the conductive tracks on PCBs, but clearly featured as an abstraction.
The Audi R18 e-tron quattro did not only cause a sensation on its drive through Le Mans due to its striking livery. At the beginning of a fundamentally new technological era, Audi published the key technical data of the race car’s powertrain as well. For instance, the cubic capacity of the V6 TDI power plant was increased from 3.7 to four liters in order to further optimize the engine that had already been very efficient. After testing various 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.”
On March 28 and 29, the Audi R18 e-tron quattro will be participating in the official test of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) at Le Castellet (France) before World Champions Audi begins its title defense at Silverstone in the UK on April 20.
Photo credit: Audi Communications - Motorsport