Audi has been constructing Le Mans prototypes since 1999. The company has regularly been at the forefront of technology with a wide range of innovations, and with the same regularity many of these solutions made their way into production cars.
Audi introduces TFSI gasoline direct injection into motorsport. The V8 twin-turbo engine of the Audi R8 Le Mans prototype, thanks to the new fuel induction, stands for significantly improved responsiveness, optimized fuel economy and shorter pit stops. Shortly afterwards, the technology makes its way into Audi production cars where it helps reduce CO2 emissions in millions of units.
Audi’s first diesel engine in motorsport triggers a revolution. While the use of diesel engines in top-caliber racing was hardly conceivable before, they become the benchmark in endurance racing thanks to Audi. Seven Le Mans victories have been achieved by Audi with TDI engines to date. Fuel economy, torque, power development and noise emissions have reached previously unknown levels. The high injection and ignition pressures have been helping to gather valuable findings for production car development to this day.
The Audi R18 TDI was the first Audi LMP1 sports car to light the track using full LED headlights. With that, Audi achieves a breakthrough as a lighting technology pioneer in racing too, just like the brand’s production models point the way toward the future with LED lights. Subsequently, solutions such as Matrix LED technology with cornering light extend the lighting functions once more. Since 2013, Audi has been offering Matrix LED headlights in the A8 as well.
The Audi R18 e-tron quattro marked the next milestone in Audi’s sports car history. Its hybrid drive in combination with the low-consumption TDI engine made it the most efficient LMP1 race car which remained unbeaten at Le Mans and won the World Champion’s titles in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) in 2012 and 2013. Its hybrid system acted on the front axle, the internal combustion engine on the rear axle. This is how four-wheel drive returned to motorsport. The digital rear-view mirror with an AMOLED display is paving the way for a technology that in the future may be playing a significant role in road traffic as well.
The next generation of the R18 e-tron quattro will be the most efficient Le Mans prototype of all time by Audi. For the first time, the sports car uses two hybrid systems for energy management – including an electric turbocharger. The new R18 will be consuming less energy than any of its predecessors.
Photo credit: Audi Sport Communication / Media