In a delightful change of events, Audi unleashed the new R18 e-Tron that is set to contest this year’s World Endurance Championship (WEC) not on the racetrack, but on the busy streets of Le Mans. The diesel hybrid sports car was driven from the Saint-Julien du Mans cathedral in the city centre to the famous racetrack by Audi’s factory driver and nine times Le Mans winner, Tom Kristensen. The new LMP1 race car completed the near 10-kilometer distance through the city, did a lap on the Circuit Bugatti and finally, arrived in front of the racetrack’s modern Welcome Center, amid the applause of Audi’s guests.
Furthermore, Audi also used this occasion to unveil the new livery of its Le Mans race car. The new colours on the car include, silver, black, white and red. These colours, according to Dirk van Braeckel - design manager of Motorsport and Special Projects at Audi are symbolic and convey the past success and the complexity of the car’s technology. To put across bluntly, Silver emphasises the past success in racing, White represents the complexity of the hybrid technology, Black stands for the lightweight design and lastly, Red symbolises Audi’s performance.
This year, the WEC organisers are focusing on hybrid and diesel systems. Audi therefore, has made the appropriate changes to its race car. The R18 has been equipped with the V6 TDI diesel engine with its displacement upgraded to 4.0-litre from 3.7-litre. The diesel engine works in tandem with an electric motor or motor generator unit (MGU) that is placed at the front axle. The R18 e-Tron Quattro is an all-whee drive car where the front wheels are powered by the MGU and the rear wheel is driven the diesel engine.
The WEC 2014 season is slated to begin from April 20 at the Silverstone circuit in UK. The Audi R18 e-Tron will be seen running test rounds on March 28 and March 29 at Silverstone.