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Audi reveals lightest racer yet

2014-04-08 10:13

WEIGHT-SAVING TECH: Audi’s engineers have shaved dozens of kgs off its 2014 E-tron Quattro prototype to achieve its target weight of 870kg. Image: AUDI

  • New  Audi R18 e-tron quattro
  • Lighter, safer, more economical
  • New safety rules increase requirements

INGOLSTADT, Germany – Audi engineers had to master a particularly challenging task ahead of 2014 LeMans race in June.

Since the automaker entered Le Mans prototype racing in 1999, safety rules have never been as strict and a race car as complex as is the case in 2014.

IMAGE GALLERY: 2014 Audi R18 e-tron quattro

The concept design of the new Audi R18 e-tron quattro  confronted engineers with a particularly challenging requirement – new rules allow cars to be even lighter than before though they will have to meet stringent safety regulations.


The racing weight of LMP1 cars compared to 2013 can be decreased from 915kg to 870kg (45kg). Audi achieved its target weight of 870kg in its R18 e-tron quattro. According to Audi its diesel hybrid sports car “is safer, lighter and more efficient than any of its predecessors”.

New technical regulations require engineers to be creative if they are to shave car-weight while meeting safety requirements. For example, to protect the driver during lateral impacts, regulations prescribe Zylon side panels.

This particularly tough and impact-resistant material prevents lateral intrusions of pointed objects in the cockpit in a crash. The monocoque had to be redesigned as well to withstand higher test loads specified starting in 2014.

The eight wheel tethers (two per wheel) which are to prevent the separation of the wheels from the car in case of a crash are new as well. The 2014 Audi R18 e-tron quattro is equipped with a rear crash-absorbing structure.

This new component made of carbon fibred reinforced plastic (CFRP) absorbs the energy in a rear-end collision.

The regulations allow transmissions with seven gears instead of the previous six. The new gear pair and its actuation make a difference on the scales as well.


Audi Sport’s head of technology, Dr Martin Muhlmeier, said: “The aggregate of all these measures corresponds to an additional weight of more than 20kg.”

As a result, the engineers were tasked to make the newly designed race car even lighter than before to compensate for this additional weight while achieving the lower minimum weight.

Audi Sport’s head of vehicle technology, Wolfgang Appel, said: “Thanks to our constant development work there are no measures left that would yield major weight savings in a single step. Instead, the art lies in achieving further improvements of all the details.”

In 2014, the steering wheel column of the sports prototype is made from CFRP for the first time. However, this material continues to be prohibited in various areas such as wheel suspension elements, which have to be made of metallic materials, according to regulations.

Read more on:    audi  |  le mans  |  germany  |  motorsport  |  racing

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