Thursday 1 March 2012

Audi brings the quattro back to the race track

Audi brings the quattro back to
the race track

􀀁 World premiere in Munich: the new Audi R18 e-tron quattro
􀀁 Four-wheel driven diesel hybrid for the 24 Hours of Le Mans
􀀁 Audi ultra lightweight as base for the application of hybrid technology

Ingolstadt/Munich, February 29, 2012 – Motor sport is used yet again by AUDI
AG to pioneer new technology: the brand with the four ring’s new Le Mans race car
is the world’s first LMP1 car to combine a highly-efficient TDI with a hybrid
system. quattro drive also celebrates its comeback to the race track with the
prototype – in a entirely new form.
Audi R18 e-tron quattro is the name of the new Le Mans prototype that makes its
race debut on May 5 in the 6-hour race at Spa-Francorchamps (Belgium) and fights
for overall victory at the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans (France) on June 16/17. Audi
unites two technologies in a fascinating way to create a new type of drive, which is
also already being tested for future use in production cars: e-tron quattro.
Hiding behind this description is the next generation four-wheel drive with which
Audi combines the advantages of the proven quattro drive with the potential of
electromobility. To this end one vehicle axle is powered conventionally, the second
by electric motors.
“Audi has always consciously selected championships and categories in racing that
have a close relationship to production and therefore have technical relevance for
the Audi customers,” explains Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, who
personally drove the new Audi R18 e-tron quattro onto the stage on Wednesday
evening during its world premiere in the Audi Training Center at Munich airport –
electrically and almost silent. “quattro, TFSI and TDI are three excellent examples
of how motorsport has stimulated production development. 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.”

On the Audi R18 e-tron quattro kinetic energy is recovered on the front axle during
the braking phase. It is fed as electric into a flywheel accumulator before being
retrieved under acceleration again above a speed of 120 km/h. During this
procedure only the front axle is integrated. The V6 TDI power plant producing 375
kW (510 hp) continues to transmit its power to the rear wheels. Both systems
complement each other to create the new drive principle e-tron quattro.
Project began in February 2010
The project e-tron quattro for motorsport started in February 2010. Only 18 months
passed from the initial conceptual ideas to the first test. “This is a relatively short
cycle for a technology that has never been tested in motorsport and which still
doesn’t even exist in production,” stresses Dr. Martin Mühlmeier, Head of
Technology at Audi Sport. “The challenge is correspondingly big.”
Audi Sport developed the Audi R18 ultra in parallel to the Audi R18 e-tron quattro –
because Audi takes a two-pronged approach this year in the 24 Hours of Le Mans
and in the newly created FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) – the 2012
model year Audi R18 is built with and without hybrid drive. The trick: the base of
both cars is completely identical, which is why the additional logistical effort is kept
limited for Audi Sport and the race team.
“The TDI engine invented by Audi is still the most efficient drive in the world,” says
Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. “We are convinced that the TDI has even more potential. This
is why Audi not only supports the hybrid in motorsport as it does in production, but
in parallel also the further development of the conventional drive.”
Innovation in transmission area
The R18 e-tron quattro’s twin brother more than lives up to its model name ‘R18
ultra’: it is the lightest Le Mans prototype that Audi Sport has ever built. To
compensate for the additional weight of the hybrid system the subject of
lightweight design and construction was the focus throughout development of the
2011 Le Mans race winning R18 TDI. In addition to the many detail optimizations
there is also a genuine innovation in the transmission area: a new gearbox with a
carbon-fiber composite housing was developed for the R18 – a premiere for
endurance racing.

“The new R18 ultra is a distinct evolution of last year’s Le Mans race winning car,”
summarizes Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. “Our drivers’
impressions were very positive from the first moment. Without the weight
optimized R18 ultra we would have not been capable of realizing the R18 e-tron
quattro which is absolutely identical with the exception of the hybrid system.”
Le Mans 2012: two R18 e-tron quattro and two R18 ultra
Audi Sport Team Joest will field two R18 e-tron quattro and two R18 ultra
prototypes in the Le Mans 24 Hours on June 16/17. The two hybrid cars are driven by
last year’s winning trio Marcel Fässler (CH), André Lotterer (D) and Benoît Tréluyer
(F) as well as Dindo Capello (I), Tom Kristensen (DK) and Allan McNish (GB) who
boast a total of 13 Le Mans wins between them. New signing Loïc Duval (F) starts
together with Timo Bernhard (D) and Romain Dumas (F) in an R18 ultra as do Marco
Bonanomi (I), Oliver Jarvis (GB) and Mike Rockenfeller (D).
Audi Sport Team Joest also contests the World Championship round at Spa-
Francorchamps (Belgium) on May 5 in the same formation. At the same time the
race doubles as a dress rehearsal for the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Only Mike
Rockenfeller will miss this race due to a clashing date with the DTM.
After the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Audi plans to enter an R18 e-tron quattro and an
R18 ultra in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC). André Lotterer and
Allan McNish have been nominated as the drivers so far.

At the World Championship opener at Sebring (USA) on March 17, Audi Sport Team
Joest relies on the proven R18 TDI from last year, which are driven by Marcel
Fässler/André Lotterer/Benoît Tréluyer, Dindo Capello/Tom Kristensen/Allan
McNish as well as Timo Bernhard/Romain Dumas/Loïc Duval.
Audi Sport.

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