Audi doesn’t mind pushing the envelope a little further than most people would and has proven that with the release of a new Le Mans race car. The racer is called the R18 e-Tron hybrid quattro, a four-wheel driven diesel hybrid race car that’s set to compete at the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans in France on June 16 and 17, 2012.
Working under the same principles as that of the Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid, the R18 e-Tron hybrid quattro uses kinetic energy that’s recovered whenever the car brakes, storing that energy in the flywheel accumulator as electricity before being sent back to the electric motors on the front wheels. The motors take car of the front of the vehicle, while the rear wheels get their power from the car’s 510-horsepower V6 TDI engine. The only difference between the aforementioned Porsche and the R18 e-Tron hybrid quattro is that the latter is considered a mild hybrid, using a petrol engine along with electricity.
Since the car uses a heavy hybrid system, Audi went and designed the race car’s gearbox using carbon fiber composite housing, alleviating some of the weight brought about by the complicated drivetrain.
Before it struts its wares in Le Mans, the car will be put through the paces on May 5th at the 6-hour race at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium where it will be raced by Allan McNish, Dindo Capello Tom Kristensen and Benoît Tréluyer, André Lotterer and Marcel Fässler.
UPDATE 06/07/2012: Audi has unveiled a cool promo video for their brand new R18 e-Tron that will compete at the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans race on Saturday, June 16th-17th 2012. The video presents Audi’s racing evolution, going from turbocharged direct injection (TFSI) up to turbo diesel (TDI) engines and the new e-tron.