Audi’s 2012 R18 Le Mans Challenger Comes in AWD Hybrid and RWD Flavors


Ten-time winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans raceAudi revealed its new contender for this year’s event in the Audi Training Center at the Munich Airport.
Named the R18 e-tron quattro, the four-wheel drive LMP1 racer combines a diesel engine, which has worked brilliantly for Audi in the past, withhybrid technology.
While the 510HP 3.7-liter V6 TDI diesel engine continues to drive the rear wheels like before, the R18 e-tron quattro also features a kinetic energy recovery system up front that captures energy during braking and feeds it to a flywheel accumulator.
The stored energy is then used to power the front axle at speeds above 120 km/h (75 mph).
“Quattro, TFSI and TDI are three excellent examples of how motorsport has stimulated production technology”, said the Audi Motorsport boss Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. “A similar tendency is apparent with the e-tron quattro: we test a completely new technology on the race track before it’s introduced to the Audi production line.”
The development of the hybrid endurance racer began in February 2010. According Audi Sport’s Head of Technology, Dr. Martin Muhlmeier, this 18-month period is “a relatively short cycle for a technology that has never being tested in motorsport and still doesn’t even exist in production”.
Even though the new racer is Audi’s new weapon for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, which will take place on June 16 and 17, Ingolstadt has not given up on the traditional diesel-engined version just yet.
In fact, along with the e-tron quattro, it presented the non-hybrid, diesel powered R18 ultra. Based on last year’s car, it is the lightest Le Mans prototype that Audi has ever built and features a new gearbox with a carbonfiber composite housing, which is a first for endurance racers.
“The new R18 ultra is a distinct evolution of last year’s Le Mans winning car”, said Dr. Ullrich. “Without the weight-optimized R18 we would have not been able of realizing the R18 e-tron quattro which is absolutely identical with the exception of the hybrid system.”
The R18 e-tron quattro will make its debut at the Spa-Francorchamps 6-hour race as a dress rehearsal for Le Mans. Audi will enter two cars of each version in the Le Mans race and, after that, the FIA World Endurance Championship.


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