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  Audi R18 e-tron quattro
 

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Country of origin:Germany
Produced in:2015
Predecessor:Audi R18 e-tron quattro
Successor:Audi R18 e-tron quattro
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:April 13, 2015
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Click here to download printer friendly versionWhile Audi added another Le Mans victory to their tally in 2014, the German team struggled throughout the FIA World Endurance Championship to match the raw pace of rivals Toyota and Porsche. It was the years of experience and the unrivalled race-craft of the well-honed Audi Sport Team Joest that brought the German manufacturer's 13th Le Mans win from 15 attempts. The lack of pace was partly down to Audi's conservative choice to run in the lowest hybrid bracket.

For the 2015 season, Audi have comprehensively reworked the existing R18 e-tron quattro to bridge the pace gap with its rivals. What was retained is the four-litre, turbo-diesel V6 introduced at the start of the previous season. The second half of the drivetrain consists of an electric motor/generator connected to the front axle. Its power has increased as Audi opted to move from the 2 MJ to the 4 MJ category, which allows the hybrid system to store twice as much kinetic energy in the fly-wheel over a single lap.

The majority of the other development work focused on the aerodynamics with a completely reworked nose as the result. The F1-style nose is even more pronounced, while the front wing has been further refined. Sizeable brake cooling vents are mounted in the front fender, which in turn has prompted a complete redesign of the headlights. As before, the car is very low, which allows for a wing mounted less than halfway up the tall rear wing support, which significantly reduces the drag produced.

There was also a significant personel change as Le Mans legend Tom Kristensen retired at the end of 2014. His place in one of Audi's two full-season entries will be taken by long-time Audi driver Oliver Jarvis, who had previously manned Audi's third car at select events. His co-drivers in the #8 R18 are Loic Duval and Lucas de Grassi, while the #7 full-season entry is manned by three-time Le Mans winners Marcel Fassler, Andre Lotterer and Benoit Treluyer.

The 2015 protagonists first faced off at the official pre-season test at Paul Ricard. Over a single lap, Porsche seemed to have the advantage thanks to a hugely powerful hybrid system. At the first race of the World Endurance Championship, at Silverstone, Audi looked a lot better. In the race, the #7 proved more than a match for the quick Porsches and Fassler, Lotterer and Treluyer managed to score the first win of the year.

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  Article Image gallery (24) Specifications