Sparing you the suspense of reading the entire article to find out the outcome of the 2014 24 Hours of Le Mans, the race was once more another highpoint to the legacy of Audi’s prototype sports car racing program. Taking first place as well as second place on the overall leaderboard after a day of racing, the Audi R18 e-tron Quattro LMP1 race cars retook the position of triumph. For 2014, the winning Audi Sport Team Joest line-up consisted of Marcel Fässler, André Lotterer and Benoît Tréluyer. Unlike past years where near-perfect Audi Sport Team Joest form was on display at the 8.469-mile Circuit de la Sarthe, the 2014 edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans was not a complete runaway for Audi. In fact, the 2014 version of the classic endurance affair contained the German team’s hardest-earned effort in memory.
For 2014, the feat is extra-memorable for Audi as the LMP1 class featured not one but two viable competitors against the R18 e-tron quattro. Winning the first two races in the 2014 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC), Toyota was more energized than ever in the quest to capture a long sought-after overall victory at Le Mans. Claiming first and third in qualifying positioned the Japanese manufacturer in a favoured spot. The LMP1 category at the 24 Hours of Le Mans was also invigorated by the return of Porsche to high profile, premium class. Appearing in a top class at the French sports car race with a factory effort for the first time since 1998, the Porsche 919 Hybrid and its accomplished driver line-up may be rounding the learning curve quicker than their competitors would have expected. Audi itself was competing with its own new equipment. Combating the threat as well as conforming to new FIA WEC rules for the LMP1 category, the Audi R18 e-tron quattro shared mainly its name only with last year’s winning car at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The Audi Sport Team Joest organization came to the race ready to defend with their customary three-car effort.
Adversity coming even before the green flag dropped on Saturday. The 2014 24 Hours of Le Mans preparations consisted of a scary crash in a Wednesday practice when Loic Duval crashed in the #1 R-18 e-tron quattro. Not seriously hurt but taken to hospital for overnight observation, Duval was scratched from the driver line-up was replaced with Mark Gene. Mechanics were able to rebuild the wrecked Audi R18 e-tron quattro race car but would face the fact they were outpaced by the Toyota Racing and Porsche Team during qualifying taking spots fifth through seventh. Potentially signifying that Audi’s dominance could be greatly at-risk, the 2014 24 Hours of Le Mans would prove climatic.
Starting with three Audi R18 e-tron quattro LMP1 cars, the team’s efforts for winning were quickly devoted to just two vehicles. During a safety car period on a rainy Circuit de la Sarthe, the #3 Audi shared by drivers Filipe Albuquerque, Marco Bonanomi and Oliver Jarvis was hit by a GT category Ferrari. The crash damage to the rear rendered the #3 car unable to complete 2014 24 Hours of Le Mans and was retired after just 25 laps.
The early stage of the 2014 race featured the impressive pace of the Toyota TS040 Hybrids. The pole-sitting #7 Toyota, consisting of driving trio of Alexander Wurz, Stephane Sarrazin and Kazuki Nakajima, was the class of the field. However, the 24 Hours of Le Mans would soon remind teams of its endurance race nature. By the 15th hour, Toyota’s leading prototype runner suffered electrical problems that ultimately claimed their first 24 Hours of Le Mans victory with 219 laps completed. The Porsche 919 Hybrid was also strong on track but would be denied a top result after 24 hours of racing. Drivetrain and transmission problems hindered the Porsche return to the top class at Le Mans.
With the Audi R18 e-tron quattro race cars inheriting the lead on Sunday morning, the run to the checkered flag would not be without incident. Both cars required extended service for the replacement of their turbocharger units. On the 2014 R18 e-tron quattro, the turbocharger unit is a highly elaborate and experimental mechanism that operates on electrical power. While the service cost both cars several laps, Audi Sport Team Joest drivers have build up a sizable advantage on track preserving their top spots.
Prevailing with a three lap advantage, the #2 Audi R18 e-tron quattro claimed victory at the 2014 24 Hours of Le Mans. The 13th time in 16 tries Audi has won the French endurance car racing treasure, the R18 e-tron quattro completed 379 laps totalling 5,165.39 kilometers or 3,209.62 miles. This win is also the third for Marcel Fässler, André Lotterer and Benoît Tréluyer as a driving team at the circuit having also proven victorious in the 2011 and 2012 races.
After sitting as a mingled mess on the race track Wednesday, the #1 Audi Sport Team Joest entry took the runner-up spot. Three laps short of victory, former Formula 1 drivers Lucas di Grassi, Marc Gené and nine-time 24 Hours of Le Mans race winner Tom Kristensen shared second place car. By a two-lap advantage, the #1 Audi R18 e-tron quattro fended off the charged of the #8 Toyota TS040 Hybrid piloted by Anthony Davidson, Sebastien Buemi and Nicolas LePierre.
Once again the champion of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich summarized the team’s success saying, “There were many incidents and none of the top cars made it across the distance without any problems. The decisive factors were that our Audi R18 e-tron quattro cars were able to drive consistently fast for 24 hours, our drivers made no mistakes and our squad responded properly and quickly to the issues that occurred. In Porsche and Toyota we had two really strong rivals who, as expected, did not make life easy for us. I always believed that, in spite of the particularly difficult prerequisites for us this year, we’d be able to succeed and that we’ve got the most efficient race car. That we succeeded again makes me feel proud
Information and photo source: Audi AG, Porsche Cars North America
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
Winning six of the eight races on the 2013 schedule for the FIA World Endurance Championship, it would be easy to assume the Audi R18 e-tron quattro fielded by Audi Sport Team Joest was a dominant car in the LMP1 category. What does the LMP1 manufacturers’ championship winning mean to Audi? It is time for the German car brand to completely reengineer their race car. With the Toyota TS030 Hybrid proving to be a strong competitor and Porsche’s entrance to the LMP1 category on-course for next year, Audi simply cannot rest on their laurels. Keeping the Audi R18 e-tron quattro name for 2014, the race car appearing on the race track will be a drastically different car from the one that last raced at the Bahrain International Circuit last month.
Conforming to 2014 rule changes made to the World Endurance Championship’s LMP1 category, the new Audi R18 e-tron quattro is safer and more energy efficient than the newly-retired vehicle. The body of the 2014 race car will be 10 centimeters slimmer but will also be 20 millimeters higher than the 2013 R18 e-tron quattro. The increased vehicle height is created for improved cockpit room and contributes with other design changes that improve visibility. A greater level of protection greets the pilot of the new Audi R18 e-tron quattro with a stronger-than-ever carbon fiber reinforced polymer cockpit structure. A narrower underfloor is lined with additional layers of fiber and the prototype sports car’s monocoque is built to handle more severe loads. Crash energy-absorbing zone is built into the R18 e-tron quattro prototype’s rear in order to greater reduce the impact to the driver.
One notable difference for sports car fans observing the Audi R18 e-tron quattro in 2014 is the presence of a front wing. New regulations permit the features as a cost-cutting solution to front diffusers. While gaining in one area, the 2014 LMP1 race car loses an aerodynamic aid at another area. The 2014 rule changes for LMP1 ban the process of using engine exhaust to flow over the rear diffuser. A practice that generated greater downforce, such use of exhaust gas had already been prohibited in Formula 1.
The powerplant of the 2014 Audi R18 e-tron quattro prototype sports car receives some of the most extraordinary improvements. Under the new World Endurance Championship LMP1 class rules, the powerplants of 2014 sports cars will be regulated based on energy consumption. The V-6 TDi engine returns with an electric turbocharger feeding the combustion chambers by converting thermal energy. This concept of electric forced-air induction is exceptionally new and has been up until now largely experimental. The electric turbocharger is aligned with the flywheel energy storage system so it is possible to feed electrical drive system when the TDi’s maximum boost pressure is met. The new Audi R18 e-tron quattro’s hybrid drive system works similar to the original vehicle that ran the past two sports car seasons. Electric drive is focused at the front while direct TDi engine performance is delivered through the rear wheels. Regenerative braking will continue to play a big part in recharging the electric drive storage system of the R18 e-tron quattro in 2014 trim.
Overall, the new Audi R18 e-tron quattro has been lightened by 45 kilograms. Weighing 870 kilograms (1,918 pounds) in total, Audi’s has succeeded applying in their lightweight production car philosophy to their new prototype. Other improvements made to the 2014 Audi R18 e-tron quattro include wheel tethers. Wheel tethers work to reduce the chances of a wheel/tire combination flying away violently from the vehicle in case of a crash. With each tether capable of withstanding a weight force of nine metric tons, two are installed on each wheel to set places on the 2014 race car.
Entering an all-new technological realm with electric turbocharging and other safety refinements, what can race fans expect from the Audi R18 e-tron quattro for 2014? Please keep in mind, Milestones already reached by Audi since 2000 includes the first 24 Hours of Le Mans overall-winning vehicle to be equipped with gasoline direct injection, turbo diesel power as well as a diesel/electric hybrid powertrain.
Information and photo source: Audi AG
This past weekend, the crown jewel of Audi’s 2013 racing season was campaigned. Making history last year as the first hybrid race car to win the 24-hour race, the Audi R18 e-tron quattro defended its accomplishment for a second-straight year at the Circuit de la Sarthe. Completing 348 laps worth 4742.89 kilometers around the 4.273-kilometer road course, Tom Kristensen, Allan McNish and Loïc Duval combined efforts to bring the #2 Audi prototype to a 12th win since the 2000 Le Mans race. As a team, Audi Sport Team Joest R18 e-tron quattro race machines claimed the first, third and fifth place positions in the 2013 edition of the French endurance classic.
For some, seeing the Audi Sport Team Joest organization once again celebrating a victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans was somewhat of a sleeper story. Despite the near magic of constantly winning a daylong endurance race, the competition in most of the Le Mans races contended since 2000 would consist of one Audi racing against another Audi prototype car. Even the company’s press release seemed to be taking the news of their 12th 24 Hours of Le Mans win in 14 runnings in stride. Perhaps what had been most coveted is an adversary to the great name. From 2007 to 2011, Peugeot gave Audi a reason to fear losing to the 908 HDi FAP race car. Losing the 2009 endurance classic to the Peugeot 908, The Audi Sport effort in the prototype category was never as determined as it was in the following year’s event when the R15 plus recaptured begging rights of Le Mans.
As Peugeot withdrew from the prototype category, the top class in sports car racing once again needed a formidable challenger to give the Audi R18 e-tron quattro a run for its money. Fortunate to say, the 2013 edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans did provide a reason for the TDI diesel/electric hybrid race car to push hard. Last year, a new effort from Japanese auto giant Toyota appeared to have the scope to topple the Audi Sport dominance of sports car racing. Toyota Motorsports entered the 2012 24 Hours of Le Mans race with lots of potential but was ill prepared to compete with their brand-new TS030 Hybrid car. However, as Toyota and Audi met in subsequent WEC sports car races, TS030 Hybrid became a threat to R18 e-tron quattro.
In the 2013 24 Hours of Le Mans, spectators were treated to one of the more contentious prototype battles. Though the lead Audi R18 e-tron quattro finished a lap in front of the Toyota, the fact the Japanese car was able to spoil a podium sweep was stark contrast to a year earlier. Fending off a challenge from a stout Toyota effort, the Audi R18 e-tron quattros were split by the rival race machines that collected second and fourth place overall.
Drivers of the #2 Winning his ninth Le Mans 24-Hour race overall, co-driver of the #2 Audi R18 e-tron quattro Tom Kristensen explained the feat personally. “For me, Le Mans was filled with very personal emotions this time. I’m proud to drive for the world’s best team. This applies to all teammates, all employees in Ingolstadt and Neckarsulm and for Audi Sport Team Joest. They make it possible for us to realize a dream. Now this dream has come true again – winning the fastest and toughest race under the direction of Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich.” said Kristensen. For Kristensen and long-time teammate Allan McNish, the win for Audi Sport Team Joest duo was their first since 2008. In contrast, the winning car’s third driver 31-year old Frenchman Loïc Duval would toast his first overall victory at Le Mans.
The 2013 24 Hours of Le Mans victory was overshadowed by a tragic event occurring only minutes into the race. LMGTE-AM class driver Allan Simonsen crashed a wall hard in his Aston Martin. After the lap three crash, the Danish driver Simonsen was initially reported conscious when emergency crews recovered him from the car. However, a short time after the incident, it was announced that Allan Simonsen had died because of his injuries. A haunting reminder of the dangers of a sport propelling human beings at blazing, a death of race car driver is a time where victories less not important and mortality in taken into account. The Le Mans race continued realizing the loss of a speed-seeking comrade (the first death at the 24 Hours of Le Mans since 1997).
For Audi Sport Team Joest, some drivers and crewmembers may have recalled the death of Michelle Alboreto. In 2001, Alboreto was testing an Audi R8 prototype when a tire failed causing the car to veer into a wall. Michelle Alboreto has been the only driver who died in the Audi prototype effort since it was founded in the late 1990s. Similar to Audi, Aston Martin Racing continued to race after the news of Simonsen. Due to the fatal crash of Allan Simonsen and several other long safety car periods, the 2013 24 Hours of Le Mans overall distance completed was the shortest since 2001.
For the Audi Sport Team Joest organization, the 2013 24 Hours of Le Mans successfully fought to be recognized as the top of the sports car kingdom. However, at the top, it was evermore clear to the team this particular victory celebration would be somewhat muted. Head of Audi Motorsport Dr Wolfgang Ullrich stated, “That was the most difficult race I’ve experienced in my 15 Le Mans years. One reason, no doubt, was having to see a young race driver from Denmark lose his life this weekend. We’re feeling with his family.“ A fellow Danish driver, Tom Kristensen dedicated the win to recently departed Allan Simonsen.
Information and photo source: Audi AG, Automobile Club De l’Ouest
Audi engineering has a history of bringing revolutionary pieces of technology to Le Mans victory lane. Late version of the Audi R8 prototype was the first race car to run gasoline direct injection and the R10 was the first diesel powered entry of the 24-hour race to claim a win at the Circuit de la Sarthe. Creating their first diesel/electric hybrid prototype race car, Audi entered the 2012 event eager to make the R18 e-tron quattro the vessel to make their latest conquest of Le Mans. After a full day of continuous racing in France, Audi has now become the first auto manufacturer to win with a hybrid race machine. Combining the TDI engine with an electric powertrain, the Audi R18 e-tron quattro launched to the 2012 24 Hours of Le Mans pole with such a long distance needed to be traveled to achieve greatness.
Winning the LMP1 category as well as the overall 24 Hours of Le Mans, the #1 Audi R18 e-tron quattro completed 378 or 3,201.3 miles from Saturday to Sunday for the 11th win for Audi. Piloted by the 2011 race’s winning driver combination of Marcel Fässler, André Lotterer and Benoit Tréluyer, the Audi R18 e-tron quattro prototype led an effort where the Audi Sport Team Joest took the top three positions.
The race for the Audi Sport Team Joest squad was not without challenges. In the first hour of the 24-hour race, a tire puncture brought the #3 Audi R18 Ultra to pit stop for an unscheduled service while the #4 car was brought in with concern for the rear suspension system. On hour three, the #2 Audi R18 e-tron quattro lost a lap to the leading #1 car when a large collection of tire rubber and debris needed to be extracted from the underneath portions of the prototype sports car.
Hour 5, the Audi mechanics were sent into battle to repair the #3 R18 Ultra car after driver Romain Dumas skidded off track. Running third at that point in the event, Dumas managed to drive his severely damaged Audi prototype race car back to the garage area. After roughly 35 minutes of repairs, the #3 Audi R18 Ultra was returned to the Circuit de la Sarthe racetrack in the hands of driver Marc Gene.
The #2 Audi R18 e-tron quattro prototype race car effort in attempting to claim the 2012 Le Mans 24-hour race went south with less than 3 hours remaining in the event. After a race-long battle as the #2 car driven by the collective talents of Dindo Capello, Tom Kristensen and Allan McNish fought with the #1 Audi R18 e-tron quattro teammate, a collision with the retaining barrier. While the #2 race car required substantial repairs, the Audi Sport Team Joest mechanics returned the R18 e-tron quattro to competition for a 2nd place finish.
The non-hybrid Audi R18 Ultra race car #4 vehicle finished 3 laps behind the winning R18 e-tron quattro. Marco Bonanomi, Oliver Jarvis and Mike Rockenfeller drove the #4 machine that allowed the Audi Sport Team Joest squad the ability to own the LMP1 podium. The fourth and final Audi R18 prototype vehicle completing the 2012 24 Hours of Le Mans finished 5th overall. The #3 Audi R18 Ultra shared by Romain Dumas, Loic Duval and Marc Gené finished their eventful 24-hour effort with a Lola-Toyota fielded by Rebellion Racing preventing a top-four sweep of the overall results at Le Mans
Relishing the German automakers latest success at Le Mans, Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich said, “It’s a great result that Audi is now the first brand to have achieved victory with a hybrid vehicle – and right on the first run, as before with the two other technologies, and – what’s more – with both R18 e-tron quattro cars on the two top spots.” Competing in the 2012 FIA World Endurance Championship, the Audi Sport Team Joest squad will have a full two months to savour the Le Mans win until the 6 Hours of Silverstone.
Information and photo source: Audi AG
First competing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans race in 1999, Audi’s prototype effort has entered into almost every race since as a dominating force. In a quest for a 10th all-day event win at the 8.469-mile Circuit de la Sarthe for the German luxury car brand, the Audi Sport Team Joest squad is launching a 4-car attack on the 2012 round of the ultimate endurance event. With two Audi R18 Ultra sports cars and two brand new Audi R18 e-tron quattro vehicles, this year’s raid for the sports car race will see some real innovations that could have implications on production car technology.
Carbon Fiber Construction
Like many modern racing car vehicles, the Audi R18 Ultra and While the use of lightweight composite materials is a common theme in motorsports through the past 20 years, attempts to reduce weight with present road cars has been the objective of many auto companies. As a follow-up to the company’s widespread deployment of aluminum in the construction of production cars, Audi has already expressed future Audi R8 supercars will utilize an extensive use of carbon fiber components.
e-tron Electric Powertrain
Christened at May’s Six Hours of Spa-Francorchamps World Endurance Championship race in Belgium, the Audi R18 e-tron quattro brought the future of sports car racing to the present. A turbo diesel/electric hybrid powered prototype machine, the R18 e-tron quattro is an inventive concept for employing the advanced powertrain. While the conventional 3.7 liter V-6, mid-mounted engine provides the main power of the R18 e-tron quattro, a flywheel accumulator is channelled with the front axle assembly.
The unique all-wheel drive Audi R18 e-tron Quattro’s first outing on the Spa Francorchamps circuit was promising. Winning pole, the #1 car Audi R18 e-tron quattro was strong through the first event but lost the race due a reported brake vibration issue. Within a top-4 victory in the LMP1 class in Belgium for Audi, the R18 e-tron quattro occupied the 2nd and 4th place spots. The 24 Hours of Le Mans is the second test for the e-tron quattro technology on the Audi R18 for which the German carmakers is eager to see cross the line first.
Audi has pressed the e-tron name into the creation of many auto show design studies with the intent on bringing the electrified technology to the production line.
VTG Turbocharger Technology
Both the Audi R18 ultra and Audi R18 e-tron quattro will be primarily powered by a turbocharged 3.7 liter V-6 TDI engine employing the German company’s cutting edge engineering expertise. Called the Audi’s VTG (Variable turbine geometry) technology, the exhaust gas charge is fed through the turbocharger system can be augmented to provide peak efficiency throughout the power range.
Traditionally, a turbocharger turbine is designed as a compromise in a single unit configuration. Twin-turbocharged engines were developed to increase the flexibility through offering low-end as well as high-end power. Through the VTG system, the Audi R18 prototype will be free from any major turbo lag throughout every corner of the Le Mans circuit.
While Porsches are long been utilizing a variable geometry turbocharger unit, the Audi R18 prototypes will be the first time such technology has been mated with a high-performance TDI race engine.
Digital Rear-View Mirror
The sensitive aerodynamic and mechanical nature of closed cockpit race cars have left drivers suffering from impaired visibility. While competing in the fastest LMP1 class during the 24 Hours of Le Mans where much of their traffic will be approaching from in front, the Audi R18’s rear vision is also pivotal when a teammate or other LMP1 competitor may creep up on a race machine. A day-long race that could be ended with one false move, Audi Sport proficient worked to find a way to improve their R18 prototype pilots’ rear vision without altering the perfected shape of the sports car.
Debuting at the 2012 24 Hours of Le Mans event, a digital rear-view mirror could be a useful tool for capturing the top prize in the French event. Using AMOLED (active-matrix organic light-emitting diode) display technology, the digital reverse view is a multi-colour image fed from a small camera mounted behind the R18 prototype’s roof antenna. The digital rear-view mirror system is a significant advance of the back-up systems created as part of Audi’s active safety available in their road cars.
Information and photo source: Audi AG
Searching for their 10th victory, the Audi prototype program has placed every major iteration of their race purpose-built sports cars in the Sebring International Raceway winner’s circle since 2000. The Audi R8 prototype race car, as well as the R10 TDI and R15 TDI are celebrated race vehicles that began their piece of a motorsport dynasty with an inaugural victory at Sebring. Bringing 2011-spec Audi R15 TDI Plus race cars to the Mobil 1 Twelve of Sebring Fueled by Fresh from Florida event last year, the Audi R18 TDI closed cockpit prototype car would break an 11-year trend by winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans first. For the 2012 American Le Mans Series first race and the debut event for the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC), Audi Sport Team Joest’s three-car R18 team needed to claim the car’s elusive Sebring race.
Without the challenge from the Peugeot 908 sports car that won the previous two Sebring events, the Audi Sport Team Joest team came to the race track carrying a war chest of experience and equipment trumping other prototype class contenders. In Friday qualifying for the half-day Saturday race, the Audi R18 TDI race cars stormed around the 3.7-mile, 17-turn road course claiming the top three starting positions with little opposition. Taking the pole among the three-care Audi R15 group was the #1 vehicle that flew around the Sebring International Raceway with a 1-minute, 45.820-second lap time.
The Audi R18 TDI was almost perfect in its debut at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring event on Saturday. The #1 Audi R18 TDI, handled by the driving team of Andre Lotterer, Benoit Treluyer and Marcel Fassler, parlayed their Friday speed into Saturday race pace. When the #1 car was not leading the race early, one of the three team cars for Audi Sport Team Joest held the top race track position during the first four hours.
In the fourth hour, the harmonious rhythm of the three-car Audi R18 TDI squad would be impacted by an issue with the lead vehicle. Losing the lead first when a pit stop netted a stop-and-go penalty from the race stewards, the #1 Audi R18 TDI race car would crawl back to pit lane more than an hour later. A faulty electrical shifting unit on the gearbox would wind up taking the #1 car to the service area behind the pit wall. Costing the #1 Audi R18 17 laps, the car containing the 2011 24 Hours of Le Mans-winning driving trio returned to competition to finish fifth in the LMP1 category among the WEC registered vehicles.
Taking over from where the #1 car left off in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, the #2 car piloted by the proven driving combination of Allan McNish, Tom Kristensen and Dindo Capello went on the mission of with the R18 TDI prototype sports car. As day turned to night and the clock for the endurance race ticked down to zero, the #2 Audi Sport Team Joest R18 TDI won the 2012 Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring by four laps over their #3 team car. “It was consistently fast and made it possible for us to be in contention from the beginning to the end.” said Allan McNish who celebrated his fourth overall win in the Sebring 12-hour race. Winning their first Sebring event since 2009, the #2 drive consisted of the same trio of drivers that brought an Audi R10 across the line on that occasion.
Despite the fact victory seemed easy for the #2 car squad, the winning drivers all combated challenges during the 12 hours of racing. “The car was running well but traffic was a real challenge and the temperatures around noon, when I was sitting in the cockpit for a long time, were pretty high.” said Tom Kristensen adding, “It was tough clinching victory here.” Technical Director for Audi Sport Team Joest added to Kristensen’s acknowledgment saying, “That was a pretty strenuous race. And our rivals were really close on our heels. They were a tiny bit slower than we but in the caution period they wouldn’t ease up on us. They only started having problems in the end. Those were eleven hours of hard work for us. Well done to Dindo (Capello), Tom (Kristensen) and Allan (McNish). It was a superb drive.” The triumph of the Audi squad against the 64-car field at the 2012 Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring comes as another moment the German-based team conquered with superior technology, engineering, mechanics and drivers.
Attending the first race for the World Endurance Championship, FIA President Jean Todt was witness to the Audi Sport Team Joest operations at Sebring as they flew to sports car victory in 2012. With many dignitaries present, Audi captured the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring taking the overall victory as well as the first win for a prototype under the WEC body. Proud of the work of the whole racing operation, Head of Audi Motorsports Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich commented, “Obviously, it’s nice that after the tenth pole position for Audi at Sebring we managed to achieve the tenth victory as well. For us, it was a great start into the season and into the new FIA World Endurance Championship.”
The next FIA World Championship race for the Audi Sport Team Joest organization is the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps on May 6th. This Belgium round of the 2012 series will feature the competitive debut of the diesel/electric Audi R18 e-tron quattro ahead of the 24 Hour of Le Mans event.
This weekend at Sebring International Raceway, the Audi Sport Team Joest prototype organization prepares for the start of the 2012 sports car racing season. Since entering the sports car prototype arena in 1999, Audi’s motorsport efforts have pushed the four-ring badge to the top of track competition while their street cars captured accolades with customers.
With worldwide sales recorded at a 625,807 total in 1999, Audi AG scored 1,303,650 in vehicle unit sales across the planet in 2011 as the German luxury car brand has risen to a serious force in automotive production. While some debate the impact of motorsports on the street vehicles, Audi’s loyal attention to the high-priced sports car competition has provided a better-than-average case proving the benefits of factory support for auto racing. For 2012, the sports car racing efforts in prototype racing Audi Sport Team Joest will present several changes as they will attempt victory on the race track as well as win customers to new, production car-related technology.
As the Audi R18 TDI will take the green flag for the 2012 Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, the Team Joest-fielded vehicles will be part of the newly formed FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC). Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich committed “It’ll be a grand and no doubt thrilling inaugural event of the new WEC. The entire fields of the WEC and the American Le Mans Series will be competing together. “ The 2012 WEC represents collection of great, modern sports car races assembling on the globe’s most prestigious race circuits. Included in the high profile first season for WEC will debut at Sebring International Raceway before moving onto the Spa Francorchamps road course and famous Circuit de la Sarthe for the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Audi Sport is committed to run every round with their R18 TDI prototypes throughout the inaugural eight-round competition.
Much of the pre-season excitement centered on the Audi prototype sports car program has been centered on the gasoline/electric hybrid version of the R18. Scheduled to run for the first time at the Belgium event in May, the Audi R18 e-tron quattro combines the mid-engine 3.7 liter V-6 TDI engine with an electric motor that will drive the front wheels. With rear wheels still being spun conventionally through TDI powerplant, the new prototype will bring a unique take on Audi’s much-touted quattro all-wheel drive. When Audi Sport Team Joest runs the 24 hours of Le Mans in mid-June, the plan is to run two hybrid cars within a four-car effort. For the Sebring race, Audi has prepared three non-hybrid R18 TDI prototype sports cars.
For the 12-hour event at Sebring, car #1 for Audi Sport Team Joest will feature the teaming of Marcel Fässler, André Lotterer and Benoît Tréluyer who won the 24 Hours of Le Mans for the team last year. In the #2 Audi R18 TDI, the accomplished group of Dindo Capello, Tom Kristensen and Allan McNish will attempt to rekindle the magic they used to collectively win the 2009 Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. Sharing the #3 car, Timo Bernhard, Romain Dumas and Loïc Duval will round out the highly talented 2012 driver line-up for Audi Sport Team Joest.
Audi Sport Team Joest will be seeking their 10th victory in the 12-hour race. From 2000 to 2007, Audi had affirmative possession of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring overall honours with the Audi R8 and R10 prototype race cars. Interrupted for claiming victory by a pair of Porsche RS Spyders in 2008, Audi did succeed in maintaining its streak of LMP1 class victory at the Sebring International Raceway for a total of nine consecutive races. Stretching the automaker’s records with a ninth overall Sebring race win in 2009, the Peugeot 908 has presided as the top prototype runner for the famous sports car event. With Peugeot opting out of the 2012 edition of the Mobil1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, the Audi R18 is heavily favoured for victory late Saturday night.
With preparations for the 60th running of the Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh from Florida ongoing this week, the clock for the half-day endurance race starts March 17th at 10:15 AM Eastern time.
Information source: American Le Mans Series, Audi AG
Photo and video Source: Audi AG
An annual event where the best in sports car racing sprint around the Road Atlanta circuit for 1,000 miles or 10-hours (whichever comes first), the Petit Le Mans has become a final event in the sports car racing season. One of many sports car races Audi has won on a multitude of occasions since 2000, the Audi Sport Team Joest race organization will be wearing silver into combat for the first time with their 24 Hours of Le Mans winning R18 TDI prototype sports car. While tested at the Sebring International Raceway just days after the Mobil 12 hour race, the Audi R18 TDI prototype sports car will make its competitive debut in the North America at the 2011 Petit Le Mans in Road Atlanta.
Built to new safety and performance rules set out by the ACO (the French sanctioning body that oversees many sports car events including the 24 Hour of Le Mans race), the Audi R18 TDI is another evolution on the competitive ladder the premium carmaker. Powered by a smaller V-6 engine through an electronic gearbox, the R18 prototype sports car has better weight balance than the previous Audi R15 Plus. The biggest change to the Audi racing machine was the incorporation of a roof over the driver. A closed cockpit prototype, the R18 became the first such vehicle since the early Audi R8C that run last in 1999.
Long respected as a showcase where the best creations of auto manufacturers competed on speed and endurance, sports car racing is once again relevant as a test bed for modern automotive technology. In the case of Audi, their prototype sports car program aided in the refinement of several items currently utilized in production car. Their Audi R8 prototype won the Le Mans 24-hour race thanks to the FSI gasoline direct injection technology allowing team drivers to remain on track longer. Since the introduction of the Audi R10 in 2006, the German automaker advocates their clean diesel technology discovering an unfair advantage over gasoline-powered race cars. In the Audi R18 TDI, the race vehicle is the showcase for full LED headlights recently introduced in production vehicles including the Audi A8 sedan. Introduced as low-beam illumination on the Audi R15 TDI sports car, the LED lighting technology is fine-tuned for the R18 prototype.
Making its debut at the 2011 Petit Le Mans, this race is part of the 6-race run for the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup. An award that the ACO established in 2010, this is a modern initiate to crown a global honour. Leaving the 6-Hours of Silverstone, the Peugeot squad’s 908 prototype has propelled the French team to a 7-point lead over Audi Sport Team Joest. Having won the Petit Le Mans 9 times in the LMP (Le Mans Prototype) class, the Audi R18 TDI will have to out muscle the Peugeot who has won the previous two Road Atlanta events.
On October 1st, Audi Sport Team Joest will bring a two-car contingent with three drivers per Audi R15 TDI race machine. In car #1, Timo Bernard, Romain Dumas and Marcel Fassler combining for 4 overall wins at Road Atlanta. The #2 Audi R18 TDI will be helmed by an experienced trio of Tom Kristensen, Allan McNish and Dindo Capello.
Information and photo source: Audi AG