Audi will start to its fifth season in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) on April 17. On the 5.891-kilometer track at Silverstone near the UK town of Northampton, the brand will be contesting the season opener with two new LMP1 race cars.
The Silverstone 6 Hours is a classic on the international sports car calendar. Since 2012, the race has been part of the FIA WEC. Previously, Audi had been successful on the tradition-steeped circuit with its LMP race cars three times and once with the super touring cars. At last year’s event, endurance racing fans witnessed a thrilling competition, as the Audi drivers and their rivals overtook each other several times per lap. In the end, the brand with the four rings won. Marcel Fässler/André Lotterer/Benoît Tréluyer (CH/D/F) were the fastest drivers last April, crossing the finish line with a 4.6-second advantage following a nail-biting race. Next Sunday, the hybrid sports cars from Audi, Porsche and Toyota will be meeting again in a field of 33 participants in total.
“The cards have been reshuffled this year,” says Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. “All the manufacturers will be on the grid with new race cars. The Audi R18 practically has not a single bolt in common anymore with its predecessor. Nobody knows the new relative strengths yet. The Silverstone season opener will be the first assessment of where everyone stands.” Audi has optimized many areas of its LMP1 race car. The R18’s V6 TDI engine has to run with about ten percent less fuel. Still, Audi intends to remain a powerful contender due to better efficiency. With the new hybrid system and around 1,000 hp of system output, the new R18 puts more power on track than any of its predecessors. Aerodynamics, the monocoque and the suspension are new, as well as many systems in the race car such as central hydraulics. The ultimate objective is to achieve maximum efficiency combined with high performance – as required by the regulations. The R18 now processes 50 percent more hybrid energy than its predecessor, storing it in a battery for the first time.