This is the new Audi R18 e-tron Quattro, the latest version of Audi’s all-conquering endurance racer. It’s gunning for next year’s World Endurance Championship and thus, the 2014 Le Mans 24hr race.
This is important, because this is the car everyone is trying to beat. Including semi-in-house rivals Porsche, who make a long-awaited return to the top flight of Le Mans in 2014 with their own LMP1 car. And don’t forget, Porsche tends to do things properly.
So ahead of a full public reveal later this month, Audi has released this one pic, telling us that the first prototype has been built and testing will now commence at the Sebring circuit in Florida.
No word on the technical specs, but we’d expect a diesel with an electric hybrid system on board as per last year, with an even bigger focus on fuel-saving and efficiency (as per the 2014 regs). Though it looks similar to last year’s car, we know the 2014 R18 is five per cent narrower than its predecessor, in accordance with the new rules.
Dr Wolfgang Ulrich, Audi motorsport chief, says: “The tests are focused on achieving high mileage, coordinating the highly complex hybrid drive systems and working out an efficiency optimized total package.” This translates as: ‘watch your backs, Porsche’.
More as we get it. Next year is shaping up to be a classic: Porsche vs Audi vs Toyota. Who are you rooting for?