Audi has revised its R18 e-tron quattro race car for the 2015 season.
Competing in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) and in the Le Mans 24 Hours as the season’s pinnacle event, Audi will be competing in the 4-megajoule class with the 2015 R18 e-tron quattro, a hybrid sports car. The company is the only manufacturer to date to have won the Le Mans 24 Hours with hybrid sports cars.
The changes to the Audi racecar are both visible and technological.
“The possibilities of the revolutionary regulations that have been in effect for LMP sports cars since 2014 are far from having been fully used. The rules harbor so much potential that there is room for future developments,” said Jörg Zander, Audi Sport’s new Head of Engineering. “We expect that the technological progress resulting from the fierce competitive pressure exerted by four automobile manufacturers that are now involved will significantly improve lap times this season – while concurrently reducing fuel consumption.”
For this year, the engineers have doubled the amount of energy from 2 to 4 megajoules per race lap at Le Mans. During braking, energy is recovered which the system subsequently feeds back to the front axle on acceleration. The electrical machine that performs this task now delivers an output of more than 200 kilowatt (272 horsepower), which is a significant increase compared to last year. To accommodate this supplemental power, Audi has increased the capacity of the energy storage system as well.
The encapsulated flywheel energy storage system that sits in the cockpit alongside the driver can store up to 700 kilojoules of energy, which is about 17 percent more than in 2014.
Audi added it has achieved the minimum weight of 870 kilograms in spite of this added storage capacity.
The improved hybrid output, however, results in a restriction for the internal combustion engine. According to the sporting regulations the fuel-energy amount has to be further reduced if the engineers opt for higher hybrid output. This means the R18 e-tron quattro has to use 2.5 percent less diesel fuel per lap than in 2014.
To answer this fuel restriction, Audi has developed the four-liter V6 TDI engine by performing a lot of detailed work to optimize consumption levels. Already known as the most efficient power-plant in the field, this TDI now delivers 410 kilowatt (558 horsepower).
While based on last year’s car, the 2015 R18 e-tron quattro visually differs from its predecessor.
Audi explained the fresh look results from a new way of conducting airflow around and through the front end, in the area of the sidepods and at the rear of the LMP1 prototype. Large air inlets in the front wheel arches reduce aerodynamic drag of the body and have led to an all-new design of the headlights.