The new Audi R18 TDI, which is fighting to be overall champion at 24 Hours of Le Mans on June 11 and 12, 2011, is equipped with Audi connect that plays a vital responsibility in the safety of the racer. Especially at the Le Mans, communication between the pits and car is of great importance.
Audi Sport and tire partner Michelin have been working together since 2001 to develop a system that warns the motorist of a pressure loss in a tire. Each wheel of the Audi R18 TDI is fitted with a sensor to constantly monitor the pressure and this information is sent to the vehicle’s central electronic unit.
A red warning light on the innovative steering wheel illuminates once the pressure drops. In addition, the engineers in the pits are warned immediately. Ever since this innovation was introduced, tire failures caused by pressure loss and related possible accidents have been completely avoided, Joachim Hausner, who is Head of Complete Vehicle at Audi Sport, disclosed. At least 1,005 data channels are recorded on the Audi R18 TDI permanently and are monitored and transmitted to the pits by telemetry.
Approximately 16 Megabytes of data are accrued every lap at Le Mans, and are then assessed with the aid of high-tech computer system. Moreover, every time a vehicle passes the pits, high frequency "burst" data recorded during the previous lap is transmitted. This aids the engineers in their analysis thus guaranteeing that the vehicle parameters are always correct.
In theory, the technicians could also control the essential car functions by telemetry from the pits with Audi connect, but the regulations of the Club de l'Ouest (ACO) prohibit this. Thus, radio traffic between pits and driver plays an important role. Based on this data, which is studied and interpreted by engine and data engineers, the race engineer provides the driver with instructions through radio.
The traction control (ASR), brake balance between the front and rear axles, and the engine maps (MAP and MIX) are changed the most frequently while driving. These functions are integrated into the R18 TDI’s state-of-the-art steering wheel. According to Tom Kristensen, who is Le Mans’ record winner, they do not have to take their hands off the steering wheel while they are racing.