Looking to extend Audi’s FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) success during the 2013 season into next year, the R18 e-tron quattro racing car will receive made a number of changes and improvements in response to new technical regulations imposed on LMP1 vehicles.
The most notable limitations now dictate how much fuel a race car can use per lap, pushing Audi Sport engineers to create a system that reduces the R18 e-tron quattro’s fuel consumption by up to 30 percent.
“The next Audi R18 e-tron quattro represents a completely new generation of Le Mans prototypes,” said Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich in a statement. “The principles of the LMP1 regulations have fundamentally changed. The idea behind this is to achieve similarly fast lap times as in the past with considerably less energy. Making more out of less: a forward-thinking approach.”
Notable improvements include a fully re-engineered chassis and powertrain, which implement two new hybrid systems. The re-tuned V-6 turbodiesel engine drives power to the rear wheels, and the same electric energy recovery system will be at work on the front axle, maximizing the amount of kinetic energy stored from braking. New however, is an electric turbocharger that converts exhaust heat into electric energy via a flywheel energy storage system; a turbine in the exhaust spins a generator. The technology can also intelligently distribute power either to the front wheels or into the turbocharger depending on the situation. Other changes include a slightly slimmer body, lighter weight, and aerodynamic upgrades that should keep the Audi R18 e-tron quattro competitive despite the revised regulations.
With Porsche re-entering the sphere after more than 15 years away from top-level LMP1 racing, the stakes are even higher for Audi to continue its dominance of the WEC series.
The new regulations do more than shake things up between competitors like Porsche and Audi, as well. With any luck, whatever the racing engineers learn adjusting to the LMP1 fuel-efficiency limitations will trickle down to production cars in the future. Porsche has already addressed this potential benefit, confirming in a statement that “development of such a highly-efficient drive will have positive influences on production development at Porsche.”