Audi has officially revealed full details of its 2014 WEC LMP1 car, the car Porsche and Toyota will try to beat at next year’s Le Mans 24hr race.
Looks the same, doesn’t it? Don’t be fooled, because there’s a raft of innovation underneath. There’s still a mid-mounted V6 diesel engine powering the rear wheels and a flywheel that stores braking energy from the front axle and reapplies it via a motor-generator-unit.
But new for 2014 is the fact that the V6’s turbo is now linked to an electrical machine that converts the thermal energy of the exhaust gas into electric energy. This energy is also stored in the flywheel storage system too, so whenever the car accelerates the extra poweeerrr can flow back to the front or to the electric turbo.
The body itself is 10cm slimmer than last year’s car, with slimmer wheels (that reduce drag), though due to new regs the car is actually higher than before, with a larger cockpit. There’s no diffusor up front either, but a front wing with a flap, while at the back, exhaust gases blowing the rear diffusor – a-la old F1 – have been banned.
There are wheel tethers for the first time. The monocoque is stronger – it was already built from unobtanium – and layered with additional fabric making it less of a possibility of “intrusion of pointed objects in accidents”. There’s also a new CFRP structure behind the transmission called the ‘crasher’ that absorbs energy in a collision.
And that’s about yer lot. We’ll see it in action when the 2014 WEC season kicks off on 20 April at Silverstone, before the ultimate highlight of Le Mans on 14/15 June. Will the Four Rings Rule Them All for a 13th time, or will Porsche – with a new 2.0-litre 4cyl petrol and a Mark Webber on board – or indeed Toyota, manage to overcome the forces of Mount Audi?