Five winning endurance cars made by German carmaker Audi had come together for a reunion of sorts at a rare photo shoot. The 2012 racing quintet won separate racing contests from Bathurst to Le Mans during the year, four of which were 24-hour races and one was a 12-hour race. Their coming together was a strong testament to Audi’s successes in endurance racing competitions.
As a matter of fact, the five endurance racers -- four Audi R8 LMS cars and a Le Mans winning R18 e-tron quattro -- logged a combined distance that could cover almost halfway around the globe. In five endurance racing contest at Bathurst in Australia, Le Mans in France, the Nürburgring in Germany, Zolder and Spa in Belgium, the quintet covered an total distance of 17,767.898 kilometers, which covers around 44 percent of the circumference of the earth.
The vehicles also achieved four more victories in the new FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC), in addition to drivers’ and manufacturers’ title wins. Audi’s winning run in endurance racing competitions is all thanks to the carmaker’s focus on technology, effectively combining high speed and maximum efficiency.
Audi was able to underscore this through two highly different race cars --the R18 e-tron Quattro that takes its innovative hybrid drive to compete against the best racers in the world. The R18 e-tron Quattro achieved four astonishing racing achievements this year: Audi’s 11th victory at the Le Mans 24 Hours; first-ever win of a sports car with hybrid drive; the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) win and; a ten-percent less fuel consumption than its predecessor.
Despite being fitted with the latest technology available, Audi made sure that it would continue to have the same name. This new model is actually a Le Mans prototype developed from the ground up and fitted with a number of technical innovations, all of which continue to be important to the brand’s production models. The reason for this is that for the 2014 season, the brand is aiming to achieve two goals with the first being to hopefully make a hat-trick for the FIA World Endurance Championship, or WEC.
The second is to grab a win during the Le Mans 24 Hours. Audi revealed that the 2014 R18 e-tron quattro may be the complex race car it has made. A quick look would initially show that this new hybrid sports car continues the look of the same model that won the World Championship, the same car in fact that has grabbed the championship at Le Mans for the last two years.
Audi Sport however had to redo every part since by 2014 new LMP1 rules will be enforced. Head of LMP at Audi Sport Chris Reinke says that what is happening is a revolution in thinking. He adds that the basic approach usually done for motorsports has been effectively discarded. Rather than power output, he continues, the focus will now be on energy consumption.
Reinke says further that this is but a sign of the times and at the same time, it allows engineers to have a bigger degree of technical freedom. People should expect that by 2014, Le Mans will unveil a good number of concepts. For Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, this latest model to come from Audi symbolizes the new prototypes that will be part of Le Mans.
He continues that the usual philosophy behind LMP1 regulations is not the same anymore. Right now, he adds, the goal is to go faster but to use less energy. This more out of less principle is truly a forward-thinking approach, he says.