The new Audi R18 e-tron quattro diesel hybrid managed to reach the minimum weight limit of 870 kg set for LMP1 cars competing for the 2014 season. Before achieving that feat, Audi production and race car engineers had to hurdle several challenges to the stiffer safety rules while making the R18 e-tron competitive enough to take on its rivals.
New regulations have allowed the racing weight to be lowered from from 915 kg to 870 kg, and the difference 45 kg means a lot in racing. Likewise, new technical regulations carry various requirements that called new solutions that result to an increase in weight. For instance, Zylon side panels were now prescribed to better protection during lateral impacts.
Audi Sport has to redesign the monocoque to withstand the higher test loads specified starting this year. Also, eight wheel tethers are now allowed to prevent wheels from separating from the car in case of a crash. Audi Sport also had to fit the 2014 Audi R18 e-tron quattro with a rear crash absorbing structure made of carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) that absorbs energy in a rear-end collision.
The regulations now permit seven-gear transmissions, with the new gear pair and its actuation adding more weight. Martin Mühlmeier, Head of Technology at Audi Sport, remarked that measures above means additional weight of over 20 kg. To offset the additional weight, Audi’s engineers had to make the newly designed race car lighter than before – and managed achieve the lower minimum weight.
“Thanks to our constant development work there are no measures left that would yield major weight savings in a single step. Instead, the art lies in achieving further improvements of all the details,” says Wolfgang Appel, Head of Vehicle Technology at Audi Sport.
In case you missed it, Audi was the runaway winner at the 2013 edition of the Le Mans 24 Hours endurance race, as made possible by its R18 e-tron quattro hybrid race car. The win was clinched by the #2 Audi R18 e-tron quattro car piloted by Loic Duval, Tom Kristensen and Allan McNish.
The 2013 victory marked the 12th win for Audi at Le Mans, but it wasn’t easy Toyota gave a good challenge. The Toyota TS030 Hybrid LPM1 driven by Anthony Davidson, Sebastien Buemi and Stephane Sarrazin managed to finish the race on the second place.
The third place went to the #3 Audi R18 e-tron quattro driven by Marc Gene, Lucas Di Grassi and Oliver Jarvis. The #7 Toyota TS030 Hybrid race driven by Alexander Wurz, Nicolas Lapierrea and Kazuki Nakajima finished the race at fourth. [source: Audi Motorsport]