In preparation for the 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race in June, Audi fielded four race cars at the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps race in Belgium last weekend. Based on the result at Spa, Audi is in good shape for Le Mans: after qualifying in first, second, third, and fourth place, the Audi racers swept the podium by finishing in – what else? -- first, second, third, and fourth place.
Two of the cars were the Audi R18 Ultra, which uses a turbodiesel 3.7-liter V-6 engine with a six-speed manual transmission and rear-wheel drive. The other two were the R18 e-tron Quattro, which made its race debut at Spa. The e-tron Quattro has the same turbodiesel powertrain as the R18 ultra, but with a flywheel-based kinetic energy storage for the front wheels. The result is an all-wheel-drive, hybrid race car.
"We're very happy with this result," Audi head of racing commitments Dieter Gass said in a statement. "The cars ran without any problems throughout the six hours. That was an important step in our preparation for Le Mans."
The race wasn't without issue: changing weather meant the driving teams had to pick when to switch between wet and dry tire compounds, one of the R18 ultras needed its hood replaced due to a lighting failure, and two of the cars had punctured tires from driving over debris from earlier accidents.
"The R18 e-tron Quattro is a strong car but the R18 ultra, too, has certain advantages," Audi Sport technical director Ralf Jüttner said in a statement. "There will be quite a few more things coming with the R18 e-tron quattro in the future."
Based on the results at Spa, Audi says it is confident it will record its 11th overall victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans this June.