For the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) and the Le Mans 24 Hours, Audi is emphasizing focal areas in the 2016 season: The Audi R18 that has been redesigned from scratch has almost nothing in common anymore with its predecessor. It features a more radical aerodynamics concept, including a new safety cell, its hybrid drive system is battery-operated for the first time, the V6 TDI engine has been revised, and new system solutions have been added. As a result, Audi’s LMP1 sports car is a vehicle that is more powerful and – once more – clearly more efficient than its predecessor. While the new R18 is Audi’s strongest race car to date, it consumes less fuel than any of the generations before it.
Power output of more than 1,000 hp delivered by the TDI and hybrid powertrain, ten percent less fuel consumption than before – Audi is achieving new best marks under the efficiency regulations. The FIA WEC regulations have been providing automobile manufacturers with incentives to build increasingly efficient race cars since 2014. Starting in the 2016 season, this competition will intensify, as the upper limit for fuel consumption will considerably decrease by 10 megajoules per lap at Le Mans. “The result is a race car that manages energy even more effectively than before. This is an objective we’re pursuing for our road-going automobiles as well,” says Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. “This type of motorsport continues to set an example for automotive engineering. For Audi, production relevance has been a core topic of all racing programs for 35 years.”
All development engineers at Audi Sport were challenged to enhance the efficiency of the Audi R18. As a result of switching to the 6-megajoule class, the hybrid system, due to the regulations, now recovers 50 percent more energy. The car’s aerodynamics concept is fundamentally new. Nearly all vehicle systems have been refined or redesigned. Consequently, energy consumption decreases, the race car has become lighter, and allows for more favorable packaging of the component assemblies. This has resulted in an R18 which even visually clearly differs from its predecessor.
For the first time, Audi will be relying on a lithium-ion accumulator as the hybrid energy storage system. Since 2009, the batteries for the electrical system of the LMP sports cars with the four rings have been based on this technology. The production- based cells of the new hybrid storage system use advanced and powerful cell chemistry and are serially connected. The system is located within the high-strength safety structure in the monocoque and separately encapsulated once more. Electrical and electronic safety systems monitor various parameters – from individual cells through to the overall high-voltage system – and will intervene if necessary. The shutoff logic naturally includes crash detection.