December 13, 2005
Source: Audi Communication Motorsport
The LM P1 category is not only the “top class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans it is currently the most technically interesting category in motorsport. No other class offers an automobile manufacturer so many possibilities to implement new technology and to test these for production, particularly in the engine sector.
Additionally, the organising Automobile Club de lOuest (ACO) place increasing value on environmental compatibility. The ACOs target is to promote the development of environmentally friendly, quieter and more economical high-performance engines from which production cars can also benefit in the future. Therefore, the regulations stipulate that engine speeds must lie in a similar rev range than production cars. A direct technology transfer from motorsport to production is therefore possible unlike the extremely high-revving Formula 1 engine.
This is a decisive reason why Audi continues its involvement with Sports-Prototype racing. Audi successfully positions itself as the premium segments most sporting manufacturer, whereby the motorsport involvement plays a far greater role than just a marketing instrument: For more than 25 years, the motorsport success of AUDI AG has been based on ground-breaking developments, which established themselves later in production.
The best examples of this are quattro drive, which recently celebrated its 25th anniversary, and TFSI technology which was used for the first time in the
2001 24 Hours of Le Mans and remains unbeaten in the French endurance classic since then. The Audi R8, the most successful Le Mans Prototype ever with 61 victories from 77 races, is still the only racing car in the world to combine turbo-charging and direct fuel injection.
In the meantime, TFSI is just as likely to be found in Audis sporting production models as quattro drive, with which Audi initially revolutionised rallying in the 1980s before the concept went on to establish itself in circuit racing.
Audi takes a slightly different path with the Le Mans TDI project. Every second Audi sold today is delivered with a TDI engine. As inventor of the revolutionary Direct Diesel Injection for road cars, Audi has extensive technical know-how at its finger tips, which Audi Sport engineers could resource during the development of their first diesel race engine.
Through its diesel involvement in motorsport, Audi wants to increase its advantage in the TDI sector even further and accelerate the development of TDI technology. “With regard to fuel consumption, environmental friendliness, the combustion process and other new technologies we expect an enormous push in the coming years, says Ulrich Baretzky, Head of Engine Technology at Audi Sport. “We are still relatively close to the findings of our colleagues from production since we are breaking completely new ground in motorsport. However, this will change. I believe to be able to share the things that we developed specifically for motorsport with production in the future.
The start has already been made: The V12 TDI for Le Mans is the first Audi diesel engine with an aluminium cylinder block technology which could also be interesting for production.
The permanent technology transfer between motorsport and production at Audi guarantees the close cooperation between Audi Sport and the Technical Development (TE) of AUDI AG. “Both parties benefit from this, confirms Head of Audi Motorsport Dr Wolfgang Ullrich. “Motorsport has often cleared the way at Audi for new technologies. At the same time, Audi Sport benefits from the enormous know-how held by production development. The Le Mans diesel project is the best evidence for this.