With Audi keen to further its e-tron electric technology, as seen recently in the Audi R8 e-tron and Audi A6 L e-tron, the German manufacturer has debuted two new diesel-hybrid R18 e-tron race cars destined for Le Mans at the Spa Six Hour race over the weekend.
The two Audi R18 e-tron Le Mans prototype cars ran alongside two diesel-powered Audi R18 ultras – with Le Mans wins in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2011 repeatedly proving the strength of Audi's diesel performance. Audi claimed a 1-2-3-4 victory on the weekend with the conventional diesel cars taking the top two podium spots.
The electric quattro system developed for the R18 e-tron (pictured top) sees a V6 TDI engine drive the rear axle while the front axle is powered by recuperated energy and fed into a flywheel energy storage system that returns it to the front wheels under acceleration.
The idea is not a new one for the brand as Head of Audi Motorsport Dr Wolfgang Ullrich explained: "We started to think about the hybridisation of a Le Mans sports car relatively soon after the first TDI successes."
"A concrete opportunity for this materialised when it became clear that the regulations would be permitting such an option."
Audi says the technology developed for its motorsport ventures and the acquired know-how influences the performance of its next-generation production vehicles.
Audi will join the likes of Toyota and Aston Martin among many other manufacturers competing at the Le Mans 24 Hour when it runs on June 16 and 17.