The hybrid, all-wheel drive Audi R18 e-tron quattro race car sporting a diesel powerplant will make its race debut at Spa Francorchamps this weekend.
The diesel hybrid prototype race car is the first of its kind, and the track will also be a first for Audi debuts as the German automaker has revealed its race cars at Le Mans in the past. Audi claims it has been working on the idea of a diesel hybrid quattro race car for quite some time now and is excited about how well it can perform on the track.
The race car is powered by a V6 TDI diesel powerplant that drives the rear axle while a flywheel-storage hybrid system powers the front. And unlike conventional all-wheel drive setups, there is no link between the front and rear wheels on the e-tron quattro race car.
In order to save weight, Audi opted to use a flywheel energy storage system rather than a battery. In addition, Audi felt that a battery-powered hybrid system would be too unreliable and too complicated for a race car.
For testing purposes, the flywheel hybrid system was actually mounted in an R8 GT model. Once development was complete, the system was adapted to work on its R18 race car.
“We started to think about the hybridization of a Le Mans sports car relatively soon after the first TDI successes,” said Audi Motorsport head Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. “A concrete opportunity for this materialized when it became clear that the regulations would be permitting such an option.”