Audi is fielding four LMP1 cars at the upcoming 24 Hours of Le Mans this coming June. Importantly, two of these will feature hybrid powerplants for the first time.
The pair of Audi R18 e-tron quattros recover kinetic energy during braking and feed this back as electricity to a flywheel accumulator, which powers an electric motor at the front wheels to aid acceleration at speeds above 75 mph. The car’s 510 hp V-6 TDI powerplant drives the rear wheels.
Audi Motorsport head Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich points out that developing its hybrid technology for Le Mans is at least as ambitious and challenging as its diesel racing project was in its early stages. That said, results have been very encouraging and the motorsports team is eager to see how the R18 e-tron quattro’s hybrid systems perform in concert with their ultra-lightweight technology.
Innovating its way to wins is nothing new to Audi, which achieved the first win for a TFSI (Turbocharged Fuel Stratified Injection) engine in 2001 and for a TDI (Turbocharged Direct Injection) diesel-powered car in 2006. The automaker is the most successful brand in the race’s recent history with 10 wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans since 2000.