Audi e-tron and the new Toyota at Eau Rouge…hurry to competiveness Toyota! Come back Peugeot!
Audi delivered a thrilling premiere of two new vehicle models: Romain Dumas/Loïc Duval/Marc Gené won the Spa 6 Hours, the second round of the FIA World Endurance Championship WEC, in an open battle of the vehicle concepts. Crossing the finish line behind the Audi R18 ultra of the trio were last year’s Le Mans winners Marcel Fässler/André Lotterer/Benoît Tréluyer. They had dominated the race in the early phase with the Audi R18 e-tron quattro, the first diesel hybrid sports car in history. In the end, they had to admit defeat though. The other two Audi driver teams completed the perfect 1-2-3-4 victory of the brand.
Romain Dumas/Loïc Duval/Marc Gené kept the hybrid at bay, as Audi finished 1-2-3-4
The successful racing debut of the Audi R18 ultra and the R18 e-tron quattro marked an important milestone for Audi. In their first competition, the two vehicle concepts, in addition to their reliability, demonstrated a very balanced overall performance. The sporting results confirmed a basic agenda set by Audi – the decision in favor of two vehicle concepts – right on the cars’ first race. Major technical advantages of individual concepts can be offset by the LMP sports prototype regulations in a way that allows a thrilling competition to unfold – even though this question will have to be answered anew on each of the race tracks under highly different general conditions.
The hybrids liked it wet at Spa
On the wet track at Spa-Francorchamps the two hybrid sports cars initially dominated the action. André Lotterer in the number “1” R18 e-tron quattro took the lead from Tom Kristensen in the number “2” hybrid sister car after only a few laps. Lotterer gained an almost one-minute advantage over the best conventionally powered Audi R18 ultra, car number “3” driven by Marc Gené. At the end of the race’s first hour, two factors caused a preliminary decision. On a drying track, Marc Gené at the first pit stop was the only Audi to switch to slicks while the other drivers received intermediates. Consequently, Audi’s new Spanish signing was up to four seconds quicker than the rest on the 7.004-kilometer track. At the same time, the number “2” Audi R18 e-tron quattro was forced to have the hood exchanged due to a defect on the front lighting system. Tom Kristensen lost almost a minute in the process.
Thanks to the bold tire choice Marc Gené and Loïc Duval converted a gap of around one minute into an advantage during the course of 37 race laps. On lap 63, Duval took the lead – and car number “3” would not relinquish it again through to the finish. Gené, who is standing in for the injured Timo Bernhard as a reserve driver, thus managed a brilliant debut at Audi. After his successes in 2008 and 2011, the Spaniard is celebrating his third sports car victory at Spa.
Following behind Marcel Fässler/André Lotterer/Benoît Tréluyer in second place were Marco Bonanomi/Oliver Jarvis in the second Audi R18 ultra. Both finished their sports car debut in the Audi factory team with a podium place.
Capello/Kristensen/McNish had to settle for an unfortunate fourth place but are not leaving Spa empty-handed. Allan McNish achieved the best time in qualifying on Friday and in the World Endurance Championship standings the Sebring winners are now ranking as the runners-up with 38 points. The new front runners are Romain Dumas and Loïc Duval with 43 points.
With the 1-2-3-4 victory at Spa, four reliably working race cars, a solid driver line-up and an efficiently operating Audi Sport Team Joest, Audi managed a successful dress rehearsal for the Le Mans 24 Hours. The endurance classic will be held for the 80th time on June 16 and 17. Audi is aiming for its eleventh overall victory there.
interview with Romain Dumas
Together with your team-mates Loïc Duval and Marc Gené you won the Spa 6 Hours in the new Audi R18 ultra. Are you surprised?
“That was a surprise indeed. It was clear that the Audi R18 e-tron quattro has an advantage in adverse weather due to all-wheel drive. But at the end of the first race hour we made a bold tire choice. Then we were all the way in front with our lap times and the whole squad did an impeccable job as well. And it was fun working with Loïc and Marc – two new team-mates for me in the past two races. Marc was incredibly strong at the end of his stint, despite the fact that he’d never driven this car in rain.”
The suspense rose once more at the end of your stint. Wouldn’t you have had to change tires again?
“I made a bold decision and continued to run on one set of tires for a very long time. I didn’t want the rival behind me to have any chance of closing the gap to us. The last 20 laps were definitely not easy.”
What did you learn at Spa about the new car?
“Today’s vehicle generation is so sophisticated that even small temperature differences can have a major impact. I was very pleased in the race after things hadn’t been looking so good the day before. We’ve still got to more carefully analyze such phenomena because in the next race at Le Mans it’s usually quite warm during the day but then cool at night. That’s why consistency is crucial. With our set-up I managed to take it easy on the tires in the end at Spa. That brought us victory. But at Le Mans the conditions will be altogether different. And there we’ll also be meeting with Toyota for the first time.”
Audi Quotes after the race
Dieter Gass (Head of Racing Commitments): “We’re very happy with this result. On the whole, it couldn’t have gone any better, even though the situation became a bit unpredictable toward the end. We suffered punctures on two cars because obviously after the numerous accidents some sharp debris was on the track. Technically, the cars ran without any problems throughout the six hours. That was an important step in our preparation for Le Mans. I want to thank the squad after a very tough preparation period. This is the nicest reward one could wish for.”
Ralf Jüttner (Technical Director Audi Sport Team Joest): “We celebrated a 1-2-3-4 victory and learned a lot with the four cars and different tire strategies. Our four cars finished without any technical problems. Audi’s decision to opt for two concepts proved to be right. The R18 e-tron quattro is a strong car but the R18 ultra, too, has certain advantages. But there’ll be quite a few more things coming with the R18 e-tron quattro in the future. This was the first race with the hybrid car that ultimately finished in second and fourth place. ‘Well done’ to the winners Romain Dumas, Loïc Duval and Marc Gené and to Oliver Jarvis and Marco Bonanomi too, who drove their first races without making the slightest mistake. It was a good dress rehearsal for Le Mans. I want to thank the squad in these tough and very busy days.”
Romain Dumas (Audi R18 ultra #3): “We had a perfect race. My team-mates and our squad showed a brilliant performance. Our strategy was right on the mark and our fuel consumption was low. That paid off. That way, we increased our advantage. The tires were very good, that’s why I opted not to change tires in the end. That was another reason for our success.”
Loïc Duval (Audi R18 ultra #3): “Today, we experienced a surprise. This was only my second race with Audi but already my first victory. As always, there wasn’t a single problem when I’m sitting in an Audi. The conditions were very difficult in the beginning but the car was fantastic. We had no problems whatsoever. It’s a nice result for Audi to finish on positions one, two, three and four. I’m very happy to be on the very top of the podium.”
Marc Gené (Audi R18 ultra #3): “That was incredible. More was not possible today. Life is full of surprises. On my debut with Audi I clinched my third personal victory at Spa. It was an honest win in difficult conditions. As a driver team, we were well matched; the engineers, the team and the car were perfect. I never believed in taking victory. My goal had been a podium finish.”
Marcel Fässler (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #1): “Sincere congratulations to Audi and car number “3” on taking victory. They did a perfect job and made their decisions at exactly the right moment. We had the pace for winning. A key point in time was a safety car period that separated us from the cars in front and caused us to lose ground from a 15 to a 50 second gap. It was difficult to make up such a gap. After my pit stop a wheel locked once when I hit the brakes. Afterward there were heavy vibrations and I was no longer in contention for victory. I secured second place in order to score important points for the World Championship. To avoid a puncture I had new wheels fitted just to be on the safe side.”
André Lotterer (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #1): “A fantastic race for Audi with a 1-2-3-4 victory. When I was sitting in the car at the beginning of the race in the rain I particularly enjoyed the technology of the R18 e-tron quattro. Even though the technology is brand new it functioned superbly. Unfortunately, we didn’t keep the lead but we’re still in a learning phase. On the whole, though, it was a nice beginning before the really big challenge, the Le Mans 24 Hours.”
Benoît Tréluyer (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #1): “Second place on the debut of the hybrid vehicle is a good result. The car was running absolutely perfectly – a good sign for the future. Our Audi R18 e-tron quattro was really very good in the rain. When track was drying off and I was in the cockpit the car developed a tendency to understeer. That cost us a lot of time in the battle with car number “3.” But we’re only at the beginning with this new concept.”
Marco Bonanomi (Audi R18 ultra #4): “It was really a great race. This was my first one in an Audi sports prototype, so I can’t expect any more than this. Yesterday, we were second in qualifying and today we finished in third place. The race was very difficult. In the beginning it was pretty wet and then the tarmac dried off more and more. Oliver and I were very quick in all conditions. The pit crew did tremendous stops. Unfortunately, we struck by misfortune during the first safety car period and lost one lap at the red lights at the end of the pit lane.”
Oliver Jarvis (Audi R18 ultra #4): “A great day. The most important thing was to not make any mistakes and to complete as many kilometers as possible. We may be inexperienced but the pace was there. Now the wish remains to finish on the podium at Le Mans as well – maybe we’ll even move up a bit more.”
Dindo Capello (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #2): “A tremendous result on the whole. For the first time, Audi occupied the top four places. Sincere congratulations to the winners, but I’m hoping that it won’t be too long before an Audi R18 e-tron quattro wins for the first time. Audi did a superb job of competing here with four cars and clinching a 1-2-3-4 victory. In our car, my task was to drive three stints with the tires to test them for Le Mans. But after my last stop the tires heavily degraded and I had increasingly heavy understeer – which caused me to lose more and more speed. This phenomenon increased further in traffic. When I was driving alone it was okay. I think that the cause is not to be found in the tires but in our set-up.”
Tom Kristensen (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #2): “This was an outstanding race for Audi with four new cars. Unfortunately, it didn’t go optimally for our driver team. But particularly in the rain our performance was remarkable. Things were going well on a dry track too but a few minor things caused us to lose ground. We had to change the front hood because the left headlight wasn’t working. Then we received a stop-and-go penalty. Our tire strategy was relatively conservative. But on the way to the finish we gathered a lot of valuable data and findings. ‘Well done’ to the three cars in front of us on the podium. Coming up next, in June, will be the pre-test for the Le Mans 24 Hours. We’ve been looking forward to the big race two weeks later for a long time.”
Allan McNish (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #2): “A very sincere ‘well done’ to our victorious team-mates. They were very good today. Spa is always unpredictable and so the weather today was critical again. It was also clear that we’re experiencing a learning curve with the R18 e-tron quattro and at the moment we’re just at the beginning of it. We’ve still got to improve balance and thus the consistency of the tires. Two or three minor changes in the race didn’t help us either. But that’s the way it goes sometimes. Today was totally different from yesterday when we managed to set the fastest time in qualifying.”
1 Dumas/Duval/Gené (Audi R18 ultra), 160 laps in 6h 00.22m708s
2 Fässler/Lotterer/Tréluyer (Audi R18 e-tron quattro) + 46.801s
3 Bonanomi/Jarvis (Audi R18 ultra) – 1 lap
4 Capello/Kristensen/McNish (Audi R18 e-tron quattro) – 1 lap
5 Prost/Jani/Heidfeld (Lola-Toyota) – 4 laps
6 Belicchi/Primat (Lola-Toyota) – 5 laps
7 Leventis/Watts/Kane (HPD-Honda) – 6 laps
8 Dolan/Hancock (Zytek-Nissan) – 9 laps
9 Martin/Kerr/Graves (Oreca-Nissan) – 9 laps
10 Firth/Hughes/Hartley (Oreca-Nissan) – 9 laps
Fifth debut win: Audi’s youngest sports car generation experienced a brilliant start. The Audi R18 commenced its racing career at the second WEC round at Spa with a 1-2-3-4 victory, thus continuing a tradition. After the R8 (2000), the R10 TDI (2006), the R15 RDI (2009) and the R15 plus (2010), the Audi R18 of the 2012 model year is now the brand’s fifth sports prototype to win its debut race.
Future challenge: At Spa-Francorchamps, ten-time Le Mans winner Audi met its future challenger Toyota for the first time. Even though the Audi R18 e-tron quattro was not pitted yet against the rival’s hybrid vehicle in competition the two race cars “met” for the first time on track for a photo shoot on Wednesday. The first comparison between them will take place at the Le Mans test day on June 3 and the first outright competition at the Le Mans 24 Hours on June 16 and 17.
Much-admired premiere: Audi welcomed around 200 guests at its VIP Lounge for the second round of the WEC at Spa. The VIPs experienced the premiere of the Audi R18 e-tron quattro and the R18 ultra directly above the pits. Audi’s race team received visitors on the weekend as well. Yves Weerts, co-founder of the WRT team, and his team principal, Vincent Vosse, Laurens Vanthoor, the leader of the FIA GT1 World Championship in the Audi R8 LMS ultra, and the former Audi factory driver Vanina Ickx would not miss the premieres either.
Fit for the race weekend: Tom Kristensen arrived at Spa in perfect shape. The Dane had participated in the Stamina12 competition, a twelve-hour bicycle race in Denmark, on the previous weekend. Near Roskilde, the Audi factory driver and his team-mates Thomas Bonne and Morten Laustsen from the Traedtkil.dk team took second place overall among 750 mountain bike riders. Kristensen’s squad supported a campaign of the Danish Cancer Society through its participation.
Full agenda: Loïc Duval has little time to celebrate his victory at the Spa 6 Hours. As early as on Wednesday, the Audi factory driver is flying to Japan to spend two weeks contesting several Formula Nippon races. Afterward, he will return to Europe for the Le Mans 24 Hours pre-test on June 3 and immediately go back to Asia. In Malaysia, he will be competing in the Super GT series on June 9 and 10. On June 16 and 17, the new leader of the WEC standings will contest the Le Mans 24 Hours for Audi.
Audi R18 e-tron quattro on pole at Spa
Audi is again making technology history in motorsport, as a diesel hybrid vehicle is on the top spot of the grid of a sports car race for the first time ever. At round two of the new FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) at Spa, Belgium, Audi will be starting into the race on Saturday (2:30 local time, May 5) with four cars from the front two rows.
Even before the start of the Spa 6 Hours Audi has every reason to be pleased, as the team successfully managed a two-fold premiere. Both the new hybrid model Audi R18 e-tron quattro and its sister model, the Audi R18 ultra, that is conventionally powered by a V6 TDI engine celebrated an impeccable debut. The two vehicle models fought an open battle for the grid positions in dry conditions. Allan McNish in the hybrid car designated as number “2” set the pace straight from the beginning. He initially drove a lap around the 7.004-kilometer race track in the Ardennes in 2m 01.967s. The Scotsman then improved his own time by more than three tenths of a second to 2m 01.579s. As on the debut of a TDI diesel engine in a sports car six years ago at Sebring McNish and his team-mates Dindo Capello and Tom Kristensen again set the first benchmark on the next milestone – hybrid technology.
Marco Bonanomi, who like Marc Gené and Oliver Jarvis is making his racing debut in Audi’s sports car squad in Belgium, managed the leap onto the front row as well in the Audi R18 ultra. The Italian handled the challenging track in 2m 02.093s. Marcel Fässler in the second Audi R18 e-tron quattro achieved the third-best time. Loïc Duval, who is driving an Audi R18 ultra, finished in fourth place. For the first time in the 13-year history of Audi’s LMP program, Audi Sport Team Joest is fielding four sports cars. The team based in Germany’s Odenwald region is preparing for the Le Mans 24 Hours on June 16/17 this way. The famous endurance classic will be contested with the same vehicle line-up.
Quotes after qualifying
Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport): “The result is the best way of saying ‘thank you’ to a squad that has been working particularly hard. Although we know that qualifying is certainly not the most important thing in endurance racing I’m hoping that we’ll put our good qualifying performances on track on Saturday again and clinch a good result.”
Dieter Gass (Head of Racing Commitments): “Things couldn’t have gone any better. This is the first fielding of our hybrid car and it ran without any technical problems. The performance in qualifying was right too. It’s no doubt ideal that the Audi R18 e-tron quattro is on position one on its premiere. As far as the weather conditions in the race go, we know that anything is possible at Spa. You can choose between highly different weather forecasts on various websites … We’ll just have to take it the way it comes.”
Ralf Jüttner (Technical Director Audi Sport Team Joest): “The result is a nice mix between the Audi R18 e-tron quattro and the Audi R18 ultra cars. All the drivers drove tremendous laps. Allan nailed it down very well but Marco was very quick as well. All four cars are battling on an equal footing. We handled the practice and qualifying sessions with relative ease but are still at the beginning of the learning curve as far as the set-up is concerned. But I do believe that we’re really well set. Still, I’m warning against too much optimism. Last year, we were in front with three cars as well and then had problems in the race. And the rain that’s been forecast won’t make matters any easier for us either. It was a very good beginning. ‘Many thanks’ to the team. It had a lot of work in the past few weeks.”
Dindo Capello (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #2): “A brilliant lap by Allan! It’s great to be at the very front again. Many years ago, our driver team managed this on the debut of TDI technology too. Now we’ve achieved the top spot on the grid with the new hybrid technology. This is fantastic and shows that our driver squad can still deliver top performances. Part one of our task has been accomplished, part two will follow on Saturday. We’re the leaders of the standings and want to leave Spa in the same position.”
Tom Kristensen (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #2): “We’re experiencing an interesting week with our new toy. The engineers and the mechanics did a solid job of optimizing this car. Thanks to Allan’s excellent lap we’re starting from P1. That’s a significant result at round two of the world championship. And it’s our preparation for Le Mans. Everyone is perfectly concentrated and the demands are high. A few new members are working in the team. So, Spa is a good opportunity for the team to continue to gel and to show our new technology in public for the first time. Our top priority is to finish with all four cars on Saturday.”
Allan McNish (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #2): “Qualifying felt absolutely thrilling. Our R18 e-tron quattro is making its debut, which is a very special moment for us drivers. Something like this happens only in the case of technological leaps like the introduction of the TDI engine six years ago or the e-tron quattro now, which is the next milestone. It’s great that Dindo, Tom and I are all the way at the front of the grid. The engineers gave us a strong, nicely balanced car in which I drove two good laps.”
Marco Bonanomi (Audi R18 ultra #4): “It was a very good qualifying session. I’m very happy for the team. I’m already excited about tomorrow’s run. This is my first race in a prototype, so it’s great to be able to start from the front row. Unfortunately, I hit traffic on my second fast lap. My first intermediate time was 0.3 seconds faster than my previous best time, so I immediately returned to the pits.”
Oliver Jarvis (Audi R18 ultra #4): “That was a superb qualifying event. Marco did a fantastic job. On his second lap he hit traffic otherwise he could have even been quicker. We’re very pleased with the weekend so far. But what really counts is the race tomorrow.”
Marcel Fässler (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #1): “First of all, I’d like to say ‘well done’ to Allan and his crew on clinching pole. He drove a brilliant lap. I’m personally a bit disappointed, as I was quicker in free practice this morning than in qualifying. I was a bit too slow on my warm-up lap because I tried to stay clear of traffic. My fast lap was okay but not totally without mistakes either. Position three on the grid is a good starting base for the race.”
André Lotterer (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #1): “This was a tremendous qualifying session for Audi with the top four positions. It’s fantastic that the best time was immediately achieved with the new hybrid technology. Unfortunately, we fell a little short with our car, but third place is a good starting base for the race. Since Marcel had been the quickest in free practice we’ve got to analyze why qualifying no longer went so well. Perhaps we changed the car in a way that it no longer fit Marcel as well anymore.”
Benoît Tréluyer (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #1): “We were in front in all sessions up to qualifying. But there we didn’t get it right on the dot. That’s not tragic, though, because the race is long and the car is running well. We went out later than the others. That may have influenced the result. We were only short of a few tenths. Now we’re going to set up the car for the race.”
Romain Dumas (Audi R18 ultra #3): “This was not an easy qualifying session. Every driver had only two fast laps. In addition, we changed the set-up once more before qualifying. Unfortunately, we got stuck in traffic. Fortunately, we gathered a lot of important data that will allow us to further improve the car for the race. For tomorrow, rain has been predicted. That’s why qualifying today was not crucial.”
Loïc Duval (Audi R18 ultra #3): “Qualifying was quite alright; unfortunately, though, I was slowed by traffic on both laps. So, I could have driven even faster, but sometimes you’re lucky and sometimes you’re not. But we did achieve our aim of Audi starting from the top four positions on the grid.”
Marc Gené (Audi R18 ultra #3): “Loïc unfortunately had traffic on his fast laps, so he wasn’t able to fully exploit the car’s potential. Aside from this, the weekend’s going really well. I’m getting more and more used to the car on this fantastic track. The race is very long and a lot can happen. I’m hoping for us to clinch a podium result.”
1 Capello/Kristensen/McNish (Audi R18 e-tron quattro) 2m 01.579s
2 Bonanomi/Jarvis (Audi R18 ultra) 2m 02.093s
3 Fässler/Lotterer/Tréluyer (Audi R18 e-tron quattro) 2m 02.232s
4 Dumas/Duval/Gené (Audi R18 ultra) 2m 02.705s
5 Prost/Jani/Heidfeld (Lola-Toyota) 2m 04.232s
6 Leventis/Watts/Kane (HPD-Honda) 2m 04.636s
7 Belicchi/Primat (Lola-Toyota) 2m 05.078s
8 Brabham/Chandhok/Dumbreck (HPD-Honda) 2m 06.946s
9 Bourdais/Minassian (Dome-Judd) 2m 06.954s
10 Moreau/Baguette/Kraihamer (OAK-Pescarolo-Judd) 2m 07.504s
The race debut of the Audi R18 e-tron quattro at Spa-Francorchamps this weekend signifies the beginning of a new era at Audi. For the first time ever, a Le Mans sports car with diesel hybrid drive and two driven axles will compete in a race. For Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, this is arguably the most challenging project in the more than 30-year history of Audi Sport.
Audi previously marked milestones at Le Mans with TFSI gasoline direct injection (first victory in 2001) and TDI diesel power (first victory in 2006). Now, at round two of the World Endurance Championship (WEC) at Spa, the company’s first diesel hybrid sports car will be contesting its first race. The birth of the idea for an LMP vehicle with diesel hybrid power and quattro drive at Audi Sport dates back several years though.
“We started to think about the hybridization of a Le Mans sports car relatively soon after the first TDI successes,” reveals Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. “A concrete opportunity for this materialized when it became clear that the regulations would be permitting such an option.” In 2008, the Le Mans organizer ACO announced this forward-thinking approach and since 2009 the regulations have expressly been allowing energy recovery systems for LMP1 cars. The complexity of the related tasks is shown by the fact that in 2012 Audi is the first automobile manufacturer to field such an LMP1 vehicle in a race.
As usual, the project at Audi Sport commenced with concept studies. “Naturally, we were again able to benefit from the resources of the Technical Development division at AUDI AG,” stresses Dr. Ullrich. “Right from the beginning of the project, we intensively liaised with our colleagues on the production side of the house where concepts are created and examined for future road vehicles. They worked out a solution in which one of the axles is driven by the power supplied by an internal combustion engine and the other by the power from an electric motor. This defines a new form of quattro drive – the e-tron quattro. We’re also pursuing this strategy in racing, which again puts us on the front row. Not only because we’ll be the first at Spa to contest a race with such a concept in an LMP race car, but because production development will be able to benefit from our system in the future as well.”
For the R18 e-tron quattro, Audi has developed a concept in which the V6 TDI engine drives the rear axle. On the front axle, the energy is electrically recuperated und fed into a flywheel energy storage system which can return it to the front wheels during acceleration. This means that there is no mechanical link between the front and rear wheel drives. The interaction is completely controlled by complex electronic systems.
“The decision in favor of flywheel energy storage was made based on the specific requirements relating to racing,” explains Dr. Ullrich. “That’s also why a battery system is currently out of the question in view of our ultra lightweight design. But I can safely state that the things we’re testing with flywheel energy storage are of interest to our production colleagues too. The combination of different systems is an aspect that will have to be considered in various applications in the future.”
An Audi R8 GT provided the base for the first trials. “In the initial phase of the concept development for the R18 e-tron quattro when we wanted to get a trial vehicle off the ground as quickly as possible we came up with the idea of using the R8 GT as the base for it,” says Dr. Ullrich. “The implementation was possible at relatively high levels of efficiency and we managed to package all the subsequent original components of the R18 e-tron quattro at the front end of the R8. That’s how our prototype for initial set-up and concept work was created.”
In the development phase up to the finished race car, Audi set ambitious goals for developing the R18 e-tron quattro with support from various partners. Audi Sport has a track record of successfully managing numerous major technological challenges – from the brand’s first carbon fiber race car in 1999 through to TFSI gasoline direct injection and the TDI project. Building a sports prototype with a conventionally driven rear axle and an electrified front axle is an accomplishment that ranks at a particularly high level in Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich’s book: “A look at the timeline for the project since the beginning of 2010 shows that the e-tron quattro with its highly complex technological content and plenty of new territory was no doubt one of the most challenging projects we’ve ever had. At the same time, we should not forget that the R18 ultra as the lightest car ever built by Audi Sport created the prerequisites for hybridization in the first place. The overall complexity of this project is enormous.”
courtesy of Audi