Audi star Oliver Jarvis talks about the debut of the low-downforce R18 e-tron Quattro, which the German marque will use to defend its Le Mans crown in June.
Audi’s annual pre-Le Mans endurance test took place at Paul Ricard last week with all nine of its Le Mans drivers taking part.
The defending Le Mans champions then moved on to Monza this week where Motorsport.com can exclusively reveal that Filipe Albuquerque, Benoit Treluyer and Marco Bonanomi were the drivers that continued the test runs.
They used a version of the Monza track that bypassed the Rettifilo chicane, ensuring a close simulation of the run from Tetre Rouge to the first Mulsanne chicane at Le Mans.
As you can see from the Silverstone-spec (main image, above) the low-downforce car (below) differs substantially in its aerodynamics and aesthetics.
Motorsport.com has learned that the Monza test, which concludes on Friday, is focusing mainly on tyre testing, after the vital initial data from Paul Ricard was analysed from an aerodynamic perspective and then applied to vehicle dynamic performance programmes.
Audi Sport Team Joest is also believed to be exploring additional potential of its new LSS suspension system in Italy.
Although only present at Paul Ricard, Jarvis is the first Audi driver to talk about the test and he believes that Audi are in great shape to defend the Le Mans crown for a sixth consecutive time.
“We did the endurance test at Paul Ricard, as we do every year ahead of Le Mans last week,” said Jarvis. “To be honest it is very difficult to accurately judge the car because it is not designed for Paul Ricard and it is more a test to gather data.
"The engineers were looking at the aero values to see if everything was reacting the way they expected and what the ‘sims’ suggested.
“We endurance tested a lot of parts,” continued the 31 year-old British driver. “The car felt good and we have made a big step forward from last year and there is a lot to be positive about but we are also very aware that our competitors have made steps forward too.
“In this configuration, which visually looks very different to the one everyone saw at Silverstone, we were satisfied with the running we did.”
A classic season ahead
Jarvis is under no illusions that 2015 is set to be a closely fought season and that it has all the ingredients of becoming a classic year.
“It is going to be an incredibly close year and whoever comes out as eventual victors at Le Mans and in the WEC will be hugely deserved winners, “ he said. “It was a difficult situation in the car at Silverstone because we lost four laps because of the issues we had, but it was important for me to gain more experience in traffic and also to see what the car could do and we were at compared to Porsche and Toyota.
“Looking at the stint averages we were just as competitive as the No.7 crew and we would have been in the mix for the win as well. We were obviously pretty down for a while coming away with a fifth place but there some massive positives to take away from Silverstone.”