Audi reveals its most powerful WEC racer ever

No point in licking old wounds. Audi, fresh from losing its Le Mans crown to Porsche this year – and indeed its WEC title to Toyota in 2014 – is the first of the Big Three to have revealed a few details and pictures of its 2016 World Endurance Championship challenger.

Accordingly, it is the “most powerful and efficient race car Audi has ever built”. It needs to be; not only did Porsche win the all-important Le Mans 24-hour race in just its second year following the 2014 comeback, it also wrapped up the WEC championship too.

A big hit taken by the Four Rings, then. This new car, we’re told, has been substantially improved over the current R18, featuring improved aero, a new lightweight design, and a modified version of its hybrid powertrain featuring lithium-ion batteries and a redeveloped V6 TDI.

Though no specific details have been released yet, we know the 2016 R18 will have more powerful electrical components operating on its front axle. The 2015 car had a 272bhp electric motor, with a 558bhp 4.0-litre V6 diesel engine driving the rear axle. No word on weight, but last year’s car clocked in at 870kg.

We’re told two Audi R18s will run throughout the WEC season, which kicks off at Silverstone on April 17, 2016, and two cars at Le Mans. Which is one less car than they ran this year at the legendary 24-hour race.

“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 recent three cars,” the company said.

Sadly, it means no Le Mans drive for Brit Nick Tandy, so he won’t be able to defend his trophy won at the 2015 24-hour race.

Following a disastrous year for the VW Group’s diesel engines, the motorsport bods are adamant that a TDI is the right way to go. “With our new Audi R18, we’re setting a clear signal,” explains Dr Wolfgang Ullrich, head of Audi Motorsport.

“Audi continues to put the pedal to the metal in motorsport, deliberately relying on TDI, the world’s most successful automotive efficiency technology,” he added.

Reckon this R18 will have the power to beat Porsche – and Toyota – at Le Mans next year?