An Honest to Goodness Turbo Diesel Hybrid Takes 1-2 at the 24 Hours of Le Mans!
Audi’s technical prowess now extends far beyond excellent exterior and interior design, and its European diesel roots.
Wayne Gerdes - CleanMPG - June 18, 2012
Audi’s #1 e-tron quattro turbo diesel hybrid driven by Marcel Fässler, André Lotterer and Benoît Tréluyer in the winners circle after 24 hours of the greatest spectacle in all of Motor Sports.
From our initial coverage of the Audi Rocks the House At The 12-hours of Sebring Qualifier with rumors of an e-tron quattro turbo diesel hybrid joining the already proven R18 TDI and its all-new lightweight R18 ultra, we knew the lead up to the 24 Hours of Le Mans was going to be good. With Toyota’s crash effort to bring a hybrid racing vehicle to Le Mans in the form of the TS030 (Toyota Racing Hybrids Set for the Ultimate Le Mans 24 Hours ), this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans was only going to be better.
Better cannot even describe this years racing action as the latest in technology went wide open throttle for 24 solid hours in order to prove a teams planning, the car and the technology in an event watched in parts by as many as 1 billion around the globe.
Even more on e-tron quattro leading up to the historic 24-hours of Le Mans and one of the greatest endurance spectacles in all of racing can be found in the following threads.
On the 80th running of the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans, a turbo diesel vehicle with a hybrid drive – the Audi R18 e-tron quattro – has triumphed for the first time in the race’s long and illustrious history.
Around 200,000 spectators were on hand to witness a fascinating race typical of Le Mans plus an impressive demonstration of “Vorsprung durch Technik.” The four Audi R18 cars from Audi Sport were the quickest and most reliable vehicles and after 24 hours occupied positions one, two, three and five.
Rupert Stadler, Chairman of the Board of Management of AUDI AG:
After 378 laps, last year’s winners Marcel Fässler (CH), André Lotterer (D) and Benoît Tréluyer (F) at the wheel of the Audi R18 e-tron quattro designated as car number “1” were again the front runners. Dindo Capello (I), Tom Kristensen (DK) and Allan McNish (GB) came in as the runners-up with the all-wheel drive of the future in which the conventional drive system is intelligently combined with an electrically driven axle to record a "One-Two" result.
According to Audi, they are already testing this technology in which the drive shaft is replaced by electric cables for use in production vehicles ;)
Le Mans rookie Marco Bonanomi (I), Oliver Jarvis (GB) and Mike Rockenfeller (D) in the best conventionally powered Audi R18 ultra completed the fourth one-two-three victory for Audi at the Le Mans 24 Hours after 2000, 2002 and 2010. Romain Dumas (F), Loïc Duval (F) and Marc Gené (E) at the wheel of the second R18 ultra finished in fifth place.
Operating at the rear of all four Audi R18 cars was the latest evolution of the compact V6 TDI engine with VTG mono turbocharger that was used at Le Mans for the first time in 2011. The new ultra-light transmission with a carbon fiber housing held up to the Le Mans endurance test without any problems as well. Like quatto all-wheel drive, ultra-lightweight design is a new core competency for Audi.
The two Audi R18 e-tron quattro cars only relinquished the leading position to one of the two Toyota hybrid vehicles once for a few laps on Saturday night. After the early retirements of their fiercest rivals the two R18 e-tron quattro cars fought a thrilling duel for victory throughout the night until noon on Sunday during which the lead changed several times and the two diesel hybrid sports cars were often separated by just a few seconds.
Audi e-tron Quattro during the 24 Hours of Le Mans
Late race action with the eventual race winner, Audi’s e-tron quattro #1 and the #4 Ultra right behind.
An accident by Allan McNish in the fast Porsche corners less than three hours before the finish caused the preliminary decision. Audi Sport managed to repair the heavy damage at the front of the R18 e-tron quattro in record time and to thus save second place. In the early phase, car number “2” had lost nearly a lap after a massive piece of rubber pick-up had gotten stuck in the area of the rear suspension.
The winning car with chassis number R18-208H nicknamed “Electra” was not spared from incidents either. Marcel Fässler touched the track barrier twice on Saturday morning: the first time after spinning at high speed and the second time when he had to evade a GT vehicle that was standing sideways in the Mulsanne corner. Benoît Tréluyer, who was suffering from a severe cold which he had caught on Friday while participating in the drivers’ parade in the rain in the center of Le Mans, spun once at the entrance to the pit lane.
The third-placed Audi R18 ultra – car number “4” – lost a lap right at the beginning of the race due to a check of the rear suspension. On late Sunday morning a gear got stuck twice which the driver was able to correct each time by switching the ignition on and off. Afterward the R18 was running perfectly again and allowed Marco Bonanomi and Oliver Jarvis to clinch the first podium place at Le Mans together with Mike Rockenfeller, who returned to the podium a year after his serious accident.
Two nearly identical slips caused the Audi R18 ultra #3 in which Loïc Duval set the fastest lap of the race to lose its chance for victory. On Saturday night, Romain Dumas in the first chicane while lapping a GT vehicle hit the dirty part of the track and slid against the track barrier. The same mishap occurred to Marc Gené on Sunday noon. In both cases, Audi Sport Team Joest managed to repair the R18 in an extremely short period of time. In total, though, twelve laps were lost.
With its eleventh victory at Le Mans, Audi has extended its lead in the World Endurance Championship. Dindo Capello, Tom Kristensen and Allan McNish as the runners-up recaptured the lead in the drivers’ world championship.
Race winning #1 Audi e-tron Quattro at speed
An appropriate shot of the #1 Audi heading towards victory lane.
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