2016 Audi R18 LMP1 World Endurance Championship race car
This year’s World Endurance Championship has just concluded, with Porsche taking the Constructors’ Championship title and the pilots of the number 17 Porsche 919 Hybrid—Timo Bernhard, Brendon Hartley and Mark Webber—taking the titles in the Drivers’ Championship.
Audi, whose own drivers were just five points behind in the end, is determined to claw its way back to the winner’s circle and has already unveiled its challenger for next season. The new race car, which will once again compete in the premier LMP1 hybrid class of the WEC, is still classified as an R18 but is significantly enhanced compared to last year’s car (Audi’s first R18 was launched in 2011).
Audi says the 2016 R18 is the most powerful and efficient race car it’s ever built. Specific areas of enhancement include the new aerodynamic features, next-generation lightweight technologies and modified hybrid system that relies on lithium-ion batteries for storage of recaptured energy rather than a flywheel-based system. The car’s diesel engine, a turbocharged 4.0-liter V-6, has also been made more efficient.
Full specs will likely be released in the lead up to the Prologue pre-season test early next year. The 2016 WEC will host its first race at the Silverstone Circuit on April 17. Audi has also confirmed that it, together with fellow Volkswagen Group brand Porsche, will each enter just two cars in round three, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, instead of the three cars that have been run recently, in the interest of reducing costs.
“With our new Audi R18, we’re setting a clear signal,” Audi motorsport boss Wolfgang Ullrich said at the reveal. “Audi continues to put the pedal to the metal in motorsport, deliberately relying on TDI—the world’s most successful automotive efficiency technology—at Le Mans.