Audi Le Mans 2016 is running two diesel hybrid sports cars in this year’s Le Mans race
Audi will be making its 18th appearance at Le Mans since 1999, this coming weekend. The Audi R18 LMP sports car will have severe restrictions in terms of how much fuel it can use throughout the race. Audi has won the 24-hour race 13 times and this year’s race, will be as tough as any.
“We’ve already seen how great the challenges are this year in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC),” says Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ulrich. Audi has dealt with great competitors every step of the way, winning round two at Spa (Belgium) with the team of Lucas di Grassi/Loic Duval/Oliver Jarvis at the wheel. The same team earned the best time on the test day of Le Mans on June 5. Dr. Ulrich cautions “However, it would be premature to draw clear conclusions from this for the race at Le Mans. We have great respect for our strong opponents.”
All three of the manufacturers driving hybrid sports cars have logged leading times throughout the FIA WEC series this year. However, conditions at Le Mans differ from the other courses. Unlike the other course, races are held on race tracks enabling drivers to practice the course before a race. Le Mans is unique in that the race is run on public streets, greatly limiting time that teams can practice on the course.
A second unique feature for Le Mans is that the race is 24 hours in length. In comparison, the other races are 8 hours in length. As a result, the number of points awarded to winning drivers are worth double the points in the other races.
The upcoming race marks the 18th race that Audi has participated in of the Le Mans – 24 hours. Audi has won Le Mans an amazing 13 times, most recently in 2014 in a sports car piloted by the team of Marcel Fassler/Andre Lotterer/Benoit Treluyer. As a result, the brand is in second place of all-time winners since the race was begun in 1923.
This year, Audi will be running two vehicles, number “7” will be piloted by the team of Fassler/Lotterer/Treluyer. Car number “8” will be piloted by the team of Grassi/Duval/Jarvis.
Audi will be the only participant running a highly efficient diesel hybrid powertrain. Audi won Le Mans in 2006 running a diesel engine, and has won 8 times since then, setting a new distance record in 2010 that stands to this day.
The upcoming race is the tenth anniversary of Audi running diesel engines in their cars. In 2006, the Audi R10 TDI ran a V12 5.5-liter engine. Currently, Audi is running a 4-liter V6 in this year’s Audi R18. The vehicle uses 46.3 percent less fuel with the car achieving better lap times.
This year’s Audi R18 TDI has a diesel-powered engine in back and a hybrid system up front. A great deal of work has gone into the aerodynamic potential of the car, perfected its lightweight design, and incorporated changes in the suspension and engine management systems.
The truth is that the rigors of Le Mans make it the perfect test environment for technologies that will eventually make their way into Audi production vehicle.