The Alley

Audi kicks off at Le Mans

Le Mans Warm-up 2014Audi has kicked off its 2014 season in spectacular style with the new R18 e-tron quattro taking to the streets of Le Mans with Tom Kristensen behind the wheel.

The nine-time race winner Kristensen drove the diesel hybrid sports car on Tuesday from the Saint-Julien du Mans cathedral in the city center to the famous race track.

Accompanied by TV cameras and photographers, and featured in a live worldwide broadcast on the internet, Audi’s new LMP1 race car completed the near-ten-kilometer distance through the city in a motorcade, did a lap on the Circuit Bugatti and arrived in front of the race track’s modern Welcome Center amid the applause of the invited international journalists and guests.

Le Mans Warm-up 2014“I’ve been competing at Le Mans since 1997 but this was absolutely new for me, too, and very exciting,” said Tom Kristensen, who in 2006 had driven the revolutionary Audi R10 TDI on its world premiere – in Paris – in public traffic as well.

Audi also revealed new details regarding its 2014 technical package. The cubic capacity of the V6 TDI power plant was increased from 3.7 to four liters. After testing various energy recovery systems, Audi has elected to compete in the class of up to two megajoules of recuperation energy at Le Mans.

The energy exclusively flows through a motor generator unit (MGU) at the front axle and is stored in a flywheel energy storage system.

“We opted for this concept following extensive testing,” says Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich.

“In our opinion, it provides the optimum balance between efficient energy use, size, weight, energy conversion efficiency, responsiveness, drivability and a favorable operating strategy – combined with durability, which is the basic prerequisite for success at Le Mans.”

On March 28 and 29, the Audi R18 e-tron quattro will be take part in the official test of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) at Le Castellet (France) before World Champions Audi begins its title defense at Silverstone in the UK on April 20.

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