By Audi Media
The name remains unchanged but the technology is completely new. In the 2014 season, Audi is aiming to achieve a hat-trick in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) and further success in the Le Mans 24 Hours with a Le Mans prototype that has been redeveloped from scratch – combined, yet again, with technical innovations that are relevant as well to the production models of the brand with the four rings.
Audi in the WEC
World Endurance Champions
Two years of FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC), two titles in the drivers’ classification, two in the manufacturers’ classification, plus Le Mans victories number eleven and twelve. Audi has achieved the maximum in the first 24 months of the new World Championship. In the winter of 2013/2014, this forward-thinking racing discipline is marked by drastic changes. For the first time, a set of regulations that are fully focused on efficiency is coming into effect. Audi has thoroughly prepared for it.
After a 20-year break, the sports cars found a home again at World Championship level for the first time in 2012. The FIA WEC closed a gap in international racing, following the last Sports Car World Championship that was held in 1992. In 2014, it is one of only five FIA racing series with World Championship status.
Audi shaped the new series in the second season even more significantly than before. After five race victories in the inaugural year of 2012, Audi Sport Team Joest won six of the eight rounds in the 2013 season. The ‘crown jewel’ of the WEC – the Le Mans 24 Hours – was decided in Audi’s favor for the twelfth time in 14 years. No other manufacturer has ever achieved such a track record in this iconic endurance race in such a short period of time.
The squad from Ingolstadt and Neckarsulm successfully defended both World Championship titles as well. Right after round six, Audi could no longer be deprived of the manufacturers’ World Championship title and a race later, Loïc Duval/Tom Kristensen/Allan McNish (F/DK/GB) were confirmed as driver World Champions for the first time, following the title win by Marcel Fässler/André Lotterer/Benoît Tréluyer (CH/D/F) in the previous year. Within just two years, Audi, on winning four WEC titles, achieved a 100-percent success rate.
Endurance racing not only derives its special thrill from the races that feature strategic diversity. In terms of technology, this World Championship can claim a leading position as well. No other series makes such a wide variety of innovations possible. This year, for instance, Audi underscored its claim of ‘Vorsprung durch Technik’ in the sporting duel with challenger Toyota in the field of hybrid drive technology, with ultra-lightweight design, in the fields of aerodynamics and engine technology, and with discrete technological innovations such as the digital rear-view mirror featuring an AMOLED display or the latest generation of the Matrix LED headlights. This lighting technology, which improves traffic safety, has started to benefit Audi customers too. Customers, for the first time, can now order this option for the A8.
To promote customer-relevant progress even more intensively, the clocks in motorsport are literally being set back to zero in the 2014 season. That is when new regulations that force the manufacturers to design completely new LMP1 sports cars come into effect. The central aim: The most efficient race car wins. Ideally, its technologies will pioneer impulses for large-volume production developments in the automotive industry.
“We welcome this direction in endurance racing and see our basic idea of motorsport confirmed,” emphasizes Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. “For more than 30 years, Audi has been active in the top categories of motorsport, always combined with the aim of achieving technological progress through on-track success and to transfer the findings gained in racing to production automobiles. The list of these milestone achievements, which started with four-wheel drive in 1980, is becoming longer and more valuable year by year.”
Since 2012, Audi has been preparing for the new breakthrough LMP1 regulations that come into effect in 2014. Never before has Audi Sport developed a race car as complex as the new Le Mans prototype. The motorsport audience will experience the latest generation of the Audi R18 e-tron quattro for the first time at the opening round of the 2014 WEC season at Silverstone in the UK on April 20. The calendar featuring eight rounds represents continuity and, with venues in Europe, North and South America as well as Asia, embodies a program befitting a World Championship.
2014 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC)
Apr 20 Silverstone (GB)
May 03 Spa-Francorchamps (B)
Jun 01 Test Day Le Mans (F)
Jun 14–15 Le Mans (F)
Aug 31 São Paulo (BR)
Sep 20 Austin (USA)
Oct 12 Fuji (J)
Nov 02 Shanghai (CN)
Nov 15 Bahrain (BRN)
LMP1 as the vanguard of new technologies
Audi has been constructing Le Mans prototypes since 1999. The company has regularly been at the forefront of technology with a wide range of innovations, and with the same regularity many of these solutions made their way into production cars.
Audi introduces TFSI gasoline direct injection into motorsport. The V8 twin-turbo engine of the Audi R8 Le Mans prototype, thanks to the new fuel induction, stands for significantly improved responsiveness, optimized fuel economy and shorter pit stops. Shortly afterwards, the technology makes its way into Audi production cars where it helps reduce CO2 emissions in millions of units.
Audi’s first diesel engine in motorsport triggers a revolution. While the use of diesel engines in top-caliber racing was hardly conceivable before, they become the benchmark in endurance racing thanks to Audi. Seven Le Mans victories have been achieved by Audi with TDI engines to date. Fuel economy, torque, power development and noise emissions have reached previously unknown levels. The high injection and ignition pressures have been helping to gather valuable findings for production car development to this day.
The Audi R18 TDI was the first Audi LMP1 sports car to light the track using full LED headlights. With that, Audi achieves a breakthrough as a lighting technology pioneer in racing too, just like the brand’s production models point the way toward the future with LED lights. Subsequently, solutions such as Matrix LED technology with cornering light extend the lighting functions once more. Since 2013, Audi has been offering Matrix LED headlights in the A8 as well.
The Audi R18 e-tron quattro marked the next milestone in Audi’s sports car history. Its hybrid drive in combination with the low-consumption TDI engine made it the most efficient LMP1 race car which remained unbeaten at Le Mans and won the World Champion’s titles in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) in 2012 and 2013. Its hybrid system acted on the front axle, the internal combustion engine on the rear axle. This is how four-wheel drive returned to motorsport. The digital rear-view mirror with an AMOLED display is paving the way for a technology that in the future may be playing a significant role in road traffic as well.
The next generation of the R18 e-tron quattro will be the most efficient Le Mans prototype of all time by Audi. For the first time, the sports car uses two hybrid systems for energy management – including an electric turbocharger. The new R18 will be consuming less energy than any of its predecessors.