Four Audi R18 e-tron quattro hybrid race cars will hit the track on the test day for the Le Mans 24 Hours, June 9, 2013.
In addition to the cars number 1, 2 and 3 running for the race, a fourth hybrid sports car designated as car number 4 will be testing for eight hours at the La Sarthe circuit.
Audi said this fourth car will be there to gather valuable data for the future, as Audi is preparing for a new tire generation together with partner Michelin.
As of the 2014 season, a fundamentally new set of regulations will apply to sports prototypes. The new elements include a clearly reduced tire size. The smaller dimension corresponds to the current tire dimension for LMP2 sports cars (14 inches instead of 16 inches overall width, 28 inches instead of 28.5 inches outer diameter).
Other technical aspects of the future race cars significantly differ from this year’s models as well. For the first time, the amount of energy available when the car runs in a race will become a crucial factor of the race car concept.
The aim is to successfully manage this change, which marks the most radical one in the LMP1 class to date, while ensuring maximum safety under permanent loads.
Therefore, Audi is making a race car equipped with measuring technology available exclusively for tire testing on the test day.
Aside from the racing event, this day provides the only opportunity during the year to use the circuit at Le Mans, as the tradition-steeped track primarily consists of public roads.
Audi said engineers are already in the process of simulating the aerodynamic effects and the axle loads to be expected with LMP1 race cars in 2014. Thus, the fourth R18 e-tron quattro will be running in a corresponding configuration in realistic conditions at the beginning of June.
“Our objective is to generate a database for handling the future tires that is as versatile and reliable as possible,” emphasizes Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. “The tires are an absolutely safety-relevant topic. The impending technological change is fundamental. Therefore, we are providing all the data being gathered to our long-standing partner Michelin as well. Ultimately, all Michelin partner teams will benefit from this. We thank the ACO and the FIA and WEC officials who paved the way for us to nominate a fourth car. This marks a commitment to high safety in racing.”
The fourth Audi R18 e-tron quattro will be fielded under Audi Sport Team Joest’s entry and supported by a separate test team from Audi Sport. Reserve driver Marco Bonanomi is the driver of this car and will be fully concentrating on the tire tests on June 9.