2016 Audi R18

2016 audi r18 – DOC658070

Until the 1980s, Audi wasn’t an important name in motorsport, with its most successful race cars having been built in the 1930s when the brand was part of Auto Union. Things changed dramatically when the Quattro was introduced in 1980, spawning models that went on to dominate the rally scene and the Pikes Peak hill climb. After laying low in the 1990s, Ingolstadt decided to tackle prototype racing and created a series of vehicles that went on to dominate the competition, as well as the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Its most important racer, the R18, hit the motorsport scene in 2011 and went on to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans four times in a row before being defeated by the Porsche 919 Hybrid in 2015. For 2016, Audi has redesigned the R18 from the ground up.

Launched at the Audi Sport Finale at the Audi Training Center in Munich, the R18 is a significant departure from its predecessor. The LMP1 prototype features not only new aerodynamics, but a modified hybrid system and an optimized TDI engine as well.

“With our new Audi R18, we’re setting a clear signal: 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,” said Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, Head of Audi Motorsport.

Details are still scant as of this writing, but Audi did confirm it will rely on the same driver lineup. The No. 7 car will be driven by Andre Lotterer, Benoit Treluyer, and Marcel Fassler, while the No. 8 race will be driven by Oliver Jarvis, Lucas di Grassi, and Loic Duval. The Germans, however, won’t field a third car at Le Mans in 2016, a decision taken “in the interest of maximum cost efficiency” together with Volkswagen Group sister brand Porsche.

Exterior

Audi R18

The biggest design changes are visible at the front, where Audi redesigned every little detail in order to improve aerodynamics. The pointy nose sits higher, the fenders have a slightly boxier design with the headlamps mounted farther from the wheels. Compared to last year’s car, the splitter is also closer to the ground, the air ducts have been repositioned closer to the nose, while the traditional canards have been replaced with winglets mounted atop the fenders. Likewise, the headlamps have been reshaped and gained vertical, red LED strips at the extremities. Overall, the prototype isn’t exactly pretty when seen from the front, but these type of cars are designed to be fast rather than beautiful.

Overall, the prototype isn’t exactly pretty when seen from the front, but these type of cars are designed to be fast rather than beautiful.

The rear end isn’t as radical as the nose, but Audi made quite a few modifications. The horizontal strakes behind the rear wheels are gone, while the panels underneath sport a pair of square taillights. On the previous model, the taillights were thin LED strips mounted vertically on the wing. Speaking of the wing, the main posts have been reshaped into a more complex design, with thinner surfaces at the bottom. The diffuser is also different. The large fin between the roof-mounted air scoop and the wing remained unchanged.

More modifications are visible on the sides in the form of reshaped fenders, new air vents underneath the doors, and redesigned cockpit windows. Finally, Audi created a new livery for the presentation car, which no longer features the white and gray hues seen on the previous model, but only black and red.

Interior

As usual, Audi didn’t release photos or details of the interior, but its safe to assume that the 2016 cockpit is very similar to last year’s race car. The cabin should sport a simple dashboard with numerous buttons, switches, and knobs, a display instead of the standard instrument cluster, and a multi-function steering. A bolstered racing seat with a six-point harness will hold the driver in place during those long endurance events, while an FIA-approved rollcage will keep him safe in the unfortunate event of crash. Since LMP1 prototype are by no means fancy on the inside, most surfaced should be exposed carbon-fiber and Alcantara.

Drivetrain

Audi R18

Audi says the 2016 R18 uses a modified hybrid system with lithium-ion batteries

Audi says the 2016 R18 uses a modified hybrid system with lithium-ion batteries for energy storage and an efficiency-optimized TDI engine. Although there are no actual details to run by, it’s safe to assume that the drivetrain is based on last year’s combo. Specifically, there’s a 4.0-liter V-6 turbodiesel spinning the rear wheels and a pair of electric motors connected to the front wheels.

The conventional powerplant is likely to generate around 550 horsepower, which is similar to last year’s model, but return greater fuel economy. Given that the 2015 race car needed 2.5 percent less diesel fuel per lap than it 2014, I expect the 2016 version to boast similar improvements. As for the electric motors, they should send at least 270 horsepower to the front axle.

The car’s energy recovery and storage system, two key areas in the battle against Porsche’s 919 Hybrid, have also been improved, but details will probably be released at a later date.

Competition

Porsche 919 Hybrid

Porsche 919 Hybrid

Having won both the World Endurance Championship and the 24 Hours of Le Mans race in 2015, the 919 Hybrid is the car to beat in 2016. Powered by a 2.0-liter V-4 engine and two energy recovery systems, the 919 is likely to receive a number of changes for 2016, but Porsche has yet to reveal its updated prototype. However, the LMP1 racer is expected to sport a similar design and improvements in recovery and storage system areas, as well as a mild output improvement.

Toyota TS050 Hybrid

Toyota Racing TS040 Hybrid

2016 will see a new Toyota prototype hit the track, with the Japanese having already confirmed it will abandon its existing 3.7-liter V-8 powerplant for an engine of undisclosed configuration at this time. The brand will also switch from a super-capacitor to a battery energy-storage system and prepare a new aerodynamic package for the TS050. A turbocharged gasoline engine is likely as Toyota aims to move in the eight-megajoule subclass of the hybrid category.

Nissan GT-R LM Nismo

Nissan GT-R LM NISMO

Launched in 2015, the GT-R LM Nismo is a radical take on the LMP1 class. Using a front-mounted engine that sends power to the front wheels, the Nissan is the opposite of what Audi, Porsche, and Toyota bring to the track and a rather exotic appearance for the entire motorsport scene. Although the Japanese race car failed to make an impression in 2015, it’s expected to return better results in 2016, when it will be able to run a full season.

Conclusion

Audi R18

Having been defeated at Le Mans for the first time in five years in 2015, it’s no surprise that Audi decided to give the R18 a comprehensive makeover. With no actual details to go by, it’s way too early to draw a proper conclusion, but the 2016 car should be quicker and more efficient than the model it replaces. It remains to be seen whether it will have what it takes to finish above Porsche and the Toyota at the end of the season, but the new R18 should put up a good fight and make next year’s events a lot more interesting to watch.

LOVE IT

  • Enhanced aerodynamics
  • Upgraded drivetrain
  • New storage system

LEAVE IT

  • Strong competition from Porsche and Toyota
  • The 919 Hybrid is tough to beat
  • It’s not going to win any beauty contests

Press Release

The brand with the four rings will be entering the 2016 motorsport season with the most powerful and efficient race car Audi has ever built. The new Audi R18 celebrated its world premiere on the occasion of the Audi Sport Finale at the Audi Training Center Munich on Saturday. In the DTM, Audi has opted for continuity with an unchanged driver line-up. In GT racing, the new Audi R8 LMS is facing its first full racing season. For the 2016 Audi Sport TT Cup, 125 candidates have applied for the 20 available entries.

Audi R18

Audi Sport has fundamentally re-designed the Audi R18 for the 2016 season. The LMP1 race car that competes in the Le Mans 24 Hours and in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) features innovative aerodynamics, represents the next stage in lightweight design and has a modified hybrid system with lithium-ion batteries for energy storage, plus an efficiency-optimized TDI engine.

“With our new Audi R18, we’re setting a clear signal: 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,” says Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich.

In the 2016 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) that will start at Silverstone (Great Britain) on April 17, Audi Sport Team Joest will be fielding two new Audi R18 cars. In the interest of maximum cost efficiency, Audi and its Group sister brand Porsche, have both agreed to each compete in the Le Mans 24 Hours, the WEC season’s pinnacle event, with only two instead of the most recent three cars.

Audi R18

In the DTM, Audi relies on continuity. All of the eight drivers that were in the field in 2015, scoring ten Audi victories in 18 races, will remain on board. The only change: Adrien Tambay and Nico Müller are swapping teams. Audi Sport expects this move to provide the brand’s two youngest DTM drivers with new impulses. The eight Audi RS 5 DTM cars will continue to be fielded by the long-standing Audi Sport Teams Abt Sportsline, Phoenix and Rosberg.

In GT racing, the development of the new Audi R8 LMS has been completed and deliveries to customers have begun. Due to the high demand, Audi Sport customer racing is exploring possibilities to expand the production scheduled for the 2016 season. Originally, 45 cars were planned.

Audi customer teams will be fielding the new Audi R8 LMS on four continents in the 2016 season. In the Audi R8 LMS Cup in Asia, the new model will be debuting in 2016 as well. Special highlights on the calendar of Audi Sport customer racing are the two 24-hour races at the Nürburgring (D) and at Spa (B), the 12-hour race at Bathurst (AUS) and the FIA GT World Cup in Macau (MAC).