In less than three months, the 24 Hours of Le Mans should be an event providing the best fight in the prototype class in years. Provided through the 2014 FIA World Endurance Championship, the Le Mans race is also the pinnacle for which all teams want to win. The re-entry of Porsche’s new 919 Hybrid, Toyota’s improving program involves a refined TS040 Hybrid race car and, of course, there is Audi Sport Team Joest effort seeking to defend their domination of the top-tier LMP1 group. Ahead of practice and competition on the Circuit de la Sarthe, the 2014 Audi R18 e-tron quattro prototype made a public engagement.
Sharing the same name as the 2013 competition car, the 2014 Audi R18 e-tron quattro is technically a completely different vehicle. Changed through FIA rules and by the ingenuity of Audi, this year’s race car is designed to be safer as well as capable of utilizing a greater amount of electric assisted propulsion. Arriving at Le Mans ahead of the 2014 FIA WEC season even starts, Audi took the new R18 e-tron on a recreational journey on French streets in the hands of legendary driver Tom Kristensen. The initial 10-kilometer trip on public streets involved the media along with numerous spectators who acquired what might be the closest contact general citizens will receive to a running 2014 Audi R18 e-tron quattro. Later, Kristensen piloted the R18 e-tron Quattro for a lap around the Circuit Bugatti (a permanent race course connected to the larger Circuit de la Sarthe). Describing the experience, Tom Kristensen commented, “I’ve been competing at Le Mans since 1997 but this was absolutely new for me, too, and very exciting,”. In 2006, Kristensen was part of a similar promotional drive through the streets of Paris with an Audi R10 TDI prototype.
The true test of the new Audi R18 e-tron quattro comes with the start of the 2014 FIA World Endurance Championship. The WEC season starts with the Silverstone 6 Hours race on April 20th. The 2014 24 Hours of Le Mans is scheduled for June 15th will be the location Audi truly wants their colors to shine.
Information and photo source: Audi AG