Audi’s updated World Endurance Championship and 24 Hours of Le Mans fighter, the 2014 R18 e-tron quattro, has made its public debut in France, where it took to the streets of Le Mans with a fresh livery on its body. Audi says the V6-powered R18 e-tron is “fundamentally new”, featuring new technology as well as advanced energy recovery systems.
Audi factory driver Tom Kristensen, with nine victories under his belt the record holder of the Le Mans 24 Hours, drove the diesel hybrid sports car from the Saint-Julien du Mans cathedral in the city center to the famous race track. Audi Sport said that the stunt was inspired by the classic days of the race when drivers used to arrive to the city in the same cars they were going to race.
“I’ve been competing at Le Mans since 1997 but this was absolutely new for me, too, and very exciting,” said Tom Kristensen.
Aside from the unusual drive which brought back memories of a Le Mans era from the distant past when the drivers would arrive in their own race cars, Audi surprised the public with a new livery of the Le Mans car. While the body of the new R18 e-tron quattro was still black with red details when the car made its world debut in December, a striking color scheme now catches the eye. The new color scheme of white, silver, red and black stands for fresh, expressive graphics. “The colors are symbolic,” explains Dirk van Braeckel, Design Manager Motorsport and Special Projects at Audi. “Silver emphasizes the past success in racing. As a very quiet color, it provides the base for our livery. White, as the second color, harmonizes well with silver and appears very light. It stands for the hybrid drive. White is used asymmetrically in order to symbolize the complexity of this powertrain technology.” The contours are modeled after the conductive tracks on PCBs, but clearly featured as an abstraction.
The next color is black. It is used for the front and rear wings, as well as on sections of the fenders and sides with highly defined geometric contours. “We opted for matt black, as it nicely contrasts with the gloss white,” says van Braeckel. “Black stands for light-weight design. The black look of the large fin on the engine cover is intended to represent something like a backbone.” A unique red – Audi’s performance color – completes the graphics. Special characteristics include the reflecting surfaces of the elements, Audi’s logos and inscriptions that are exclusively applied to these areas, as well as the pronounced longitudinal orientation of the color in the overall concept. “The reflective livery is particularly impressive at night and provides the spectators with an enhanced experience,” explains van Braeckel. “Due to its longitudinal orientation the graphics express the speed that is so typical for Le Mans. Even the rims include a red segment. Due to the wheel rotation, it achieves a very dynamic effect.”
Besides getting new looks, the 2014 Audi R18 e-tron quattro also gained a new 4.0-liter V6 diesel engine. After testing various energy recovery systems, Audi decided to compete in the class of up to two megajoules of recuperation energy at Le Mans. The energy exclusively flows through a motor generator unit (MGU) at the front axle and is stored in a flywheel energy storage system. “We opted for this concept following extensive testing,” says Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. “In our opinion, it provides the optimum balance between efficient energy use, size, weight, energy conversion efficiency, responsiveness, drivability and a favorable operating strategy – combined with durability, which is the basic prerequisite for success at Le Mans.”
“We opted for this concept following extensive testing,” said Dr. Wolfgang Ulrich, head of Audi Motorsport. “In our opinion, it provides the optimum balance between efficient energy use, size, weight, energy conversion efficiency, responsiveness, drivability and a favorable operating strategy – combined with durability, which is the basic prerequisite for success at Le Mans.”
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