|March 4, 2012
Source: Audi Motorsport
· Three new cars unveiled for factory program
· Mike Rockenfeller at Geneva Motors Show
· New generation of Customer racing race car is delivered
Ingolstadt, – Audi released a hoard of innovations in motor sport within a single week. A new race car generation is ready for the 2012 season in both the factory backed program with sport prototypes and touring cars as well as in the customer racing sector.
A magnificent week: the Audi R18 e-tron quattro made its world premiere in front of a large audience of industry specialists on Wednesday. Audi unveiled its first hybrid sportscar for the World Endurance Championship (WEC) during the 2012 annual press conference in Munich. With the Audi R18 ultra a conventionally powered sportscar also competes this season. The Audi A5 DTM was homologated in its definitive form on Thursday and on Friday Audi Sport customer racing handed over the Audi R8 LMS ultra to the first customers. The new GT3 sportscar succeeds the Audi R8 LMS, which celebrated its 119th victory a week ago in Australia at the 12 hours of Bathurst.
Look into the future: Audi gave a detailed look into future technologies the evening before the annual press conference. Audi ultra stands for lightweight design and construction, Audi connect for networking with the environment and now Audi mobility opens completely new approaches for individual mobility. The Audi R18 e-tron quattro slotted seamlessly into the evenings proceedings. Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich launched a piece of motor sport future when he drove onto the stage in the new LMP sportscar with its almost silent electric drive.
Journey to Geneva: Mike Rockenfeller visits the Geneva Motor Show for Audi, where the Audi factory driver is available for interviews and dialogue during the press day.
Customer racing digital: the new Audi Sport customer racing 2009, 2010, 2011 annual is now also available in electronic form. The recent success story of the Audi R8 LMS is available for both the iPad and also for Android tablets.
Season opener in Australia: Mark Eddy/Warren Luff finished third in their Audi R8 LMS in the second race of the Australian GT Championship’s opening race weekend.
A word from … Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich
Dr. Ullrich, for the first time an Audi race car is no longer powered exclusively by a combustion engine. Are we standing on the threshold of a new era?
It’s clear that here at Audi Sport we are dealing with a completely new subject: the electrification of the drive, an issue in which our colleagues from production are also totally absorbed. In this respect a new era has in fact started – and as always Audi is involved as pioneer from day one and, as a result, is trendsetter.
Audi last appeared at Le Mans with two different concepts in 1999. At that time it was primarily a question of the bodywork, today the drive. Why the decision to bring two types of car to the grid in 2012?
Quite simply, the TDI engine invented by Audi is still the most efficient drive in the world. We’ve also proved this at Le Mans since 2006. It’s not a coincidence that turbo diesel engines are unbeaten there for six years now, even though the diesel cars were repeatedly limited. We are convinced that the TDI has even more potential. This is why Audi not only supports the hybrid in motorsport and production, but in parallel also the further development of the conventional drive. The combination of TDI and hybrid is, however, without doubt particularly interesting and very promising. This is exactly what the new Audi R18 e-tron quattro stands for.
The R18 e-tron quattro is only at the beginning of its development. In your view how much potential is combined with the energy recuperation?
The potential is certainly very big, since the entire subject of hybrid is still in its infancy. There are many obstacles, the weight of an energy storage system suitable for mass production for example. At the moment we still benefit enormously from the groundwork done by our colleagues in the production advance development, who have been studying the subject for a little longer. However, in this case I also think that motorsport can accelerate development of a new technology. Over the last few months many good ideas have already emerged, which we want to implement in the future.
Motor sport was never a means to an end for Audi, but rather always served the technical development of its product range. What contribution will the R18 e-tron quattro be able to make?
That is correct. Audi has always consciously selected championships and categories in racing that have a close relationship to production and therefore have technical relevance for Audi customers. quattro, TFSI and TDI are three excellent examples of how motor sport has stimulated production development. A similar tendency is apparent with the e-tron quattro: we test a completely new technology on the race track before it’s introduced to the Audi production line. Efficiency and lightweight design and construction are particularly important in motor sport. It’s exactly this aspect of a hybrid vehicle that provides so much development potential, where one or the other point could possibly be exploited a tic faster due to our Le Mans involvement.
Progress must also be welcomed – and from those who draft the regulations. What chances and risks does the current classification of the R18 e-tron contain?
The ACO and FIA are faced with a very difficult task here. The more different technologies there are in the game the more difficult it becomes to correlate them all. The biggest problem is that the Audi and Peugeot diesel cars were in a class of their own over the last few years – and not just because the TDI is the world’s most efficient engine, but also because no other competitor developed an LMP1 car with a gasoline engine to a similar level of detail and know-how. For this reason the diesel was trimmed again for the 2012 season, so that from our point of view the diesel is now at a real disadvantage on paper. We are, however, prepared to face this challenge and are convinced that the ACO and FIA will make the right decisions for the future. As far as the hybrid issue is concerned we can easily assess the pros and cons through our two-pronged approach, since the base of the R18 ultra and R18 e-tron quattro really is identical. The hybrid system alone makes the difference. The ACO and FIA will receive particularly meaningful data from us.
Coming up next week
08-18.03 Geneva (CH), Motor Show