With 13 wins under its belt, you might think that Audi was ready to give somebody else a shot at winning the annual 24 Hours of Le Mans. Well think again. The Audi R18 e-tron quattro is back for another go at Le Mans this year, with more horsepower and better fuel economy than ever before. Can Audi rack up a 14th win at Le Mans in 2015?
With each new year come new regulations teams must adopt to, and 2015 is no different. The World Endurance Championship (WEC) is mandating that LMP1 racers use 2.5% less fuel per lap, which meant some changes to the 3.7 liter V6 TDI engine. Yet even using less fuel, the tweaked engine packs even more potential, with output up from 558 horsepower, compared to “only” 532 last year.
It’s not just the V6 engine that makes more power though, as WEC regulations now allow the flywheel hybrid systems to dish out about twice as much energy, putting the R18 e-tron into the 4 megajoule class. With an additional 17% of energy storage capacity, the R18’s electric motor can add an additional 272 horsepower on top of the TDI engine’s 558. That makes for a grand total of 840 horsepower, and Audi is expecting to see “significantly” lower lap times this year. It’ll need every pony too, as competitors like the revamped Porsche 919 Hybrid and the new, 1,250 horsepower Nissan GT-R LM Nismo will be keeping the heat on.
Other changes include a more aerodynamic body with features like new headlights and an engine cover that’s closer to the motor. While the carbon fiber monocoque is a carryover, there isn’t much sense is messing too much with success. It looks like Audi won’t be stopped until it surpasses Porsche as the winningest manufacturer in the long history of Le Mans.