Video: A Ride In The Audi R18 E-Tron Quattro

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_yuxKw1aDmM]

To finish a 24-hour race is a feat in and of itself. As far as motorsports go, events like these are comparable to marathons, epic mountain climbs, or winning a hockey game after three overtimes. But to emerge victorious from the competition, with a drive-train never before used in the World Endurance Championship, is a feat all its own. The Audi R18 e-tron Quattro won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in a big way last month, signifying its evolutionary technology applications could quite possibly change racing.

Specifically, the TDI engine, AWD and hybrid system work together, recovering lost energy from braking and feeding the power back to the front wheels when accelerating. The 510 horsepower V6 TDI on the other hand sends its might to the rear wheels. The added weight of the hybrid powertrain is offset by a carbon-fiber gearbox housing, used for the first time in endurance racing.

Audi will be campaigning two examples of the R18 e-tron Quattro at Le Mans in June and before that at Spa in May, alongside two of the R18 Ultras with conventional diesel power. Since both cars were developed together, they use mostly the same components, enabling more efficient race logistics for the team.

Thankfully, one does not have to be an Audi race car driver to experience technology derived from racing. From the small A3 to the mighty Q7, owners can possess the power and efficiency found in Audi’s TDI turbodiesel engines. If Quattro all-wheel-drive is desired, one only needs to look towards the acclaimed A4, or even the awe-inspiring R8 supercar. And with this new technology Audi has ventured into with its racing program, we can only imagine what the technology of a TDI AWD Quattro system will transfer like from track to street.

Those who are curious what it’s like to operate a state-of-the-art race car during nightfall of the legendary endurance race need only watch the video above. The pace is hard to fathom for drivers who have never raced before, and the reflexes are close to super natural. Simply watching is an adrenaline rush.

Jul 10th, 2012