To emphasize this fact, even the livery of the three Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R18 TDI cars is dominated by carbon fiber. The car carrying the number “1” after winning last year’s race is even painted in carbon black to highlight the material.
“Carbon fiber is ideally suited to lightweight design and construction,” explained Head of Audi Motorsport Dr Wolfgang Ullrich. “We deliberately made the material and our lightweight technology visible for Le Mans.
“Lightweight design is a very important factor at Le Mans because a light car is also more efficient. This year, it is of even greater significance since the regulations stipulate smaller engines producing less power – for the Audi R18 TDI this means over 540hp. And although there is a minimum weight of 900kg for LMP1 cars, the target is to produce a car weighing significantly less in order to optimize the weight distribution with the help of ballast and to lower the center of gravity as much as possible.”
The carbon monocoque was produced in a single-piece, for which a highly complex manufacturing process was developed. The same applies to the bodywork, which was lightened 40kg between the first and second versions.
The V6 TDI engine in the R18 TDI is about 25 percent lighter than the previous V10 TDI.
The new six-speed gearbox also has a large amount of carbon-fiber composite material, and the complete LED headlights help to save further weight. It was also possible to omit the electric cooling of the LED in the headlights commonly found in production cars.
Because the gearshift is activated electrically rather than pneumatically, the R18 TDI no longer requires a pneumatic system. Optimized airflow through the cockpit should also make air-conditioning redundant.
“The Audi R18 TDI is equipped with many innovative solutions,” said Ullrich. “It was built to regulations specifically targeting future technologies – and with the background enabling these technologies to be introduced into road going cars in the future. This is what makes sport prototypes so interesting for Audi. That we will now see the first impact of Audi ultra lightweight technology at Le Mans demonstrates just how motorsport and production development go hand in hand.”