Saturday, September 29, 2012

Audi switched to hybrid endurance race cars due to competitive pressure from Toyota TS030

For the 6 Hours of Bahrain, Audi switched the team lineup to race with two Audi R18 e-tron quattro hybrid race cars.  In prior 2012 endurance races, the team had raced with a split lineup:  The Audi R18 ultra is a conventional LMP sports car with a TDI engine, while the Audi R18 e-tron quattro is a hybrid race car.  It's been clear from the series results that the hybrid race cars, both the Audi e-tron quattro and the Toyota TS030, have performed much better than the conventionally powered race cars in the FIA World Endurance Championship.

Audi went on to win the 6-Hours of Bahrain taking 1st and 2nd after the Toyota TS030 had to retire due to a crash.

As we see by the quotes below, Audi's reasoning is that the team needed a competitive edge due to pressure from the Toyota TS030.  The hybrid drive train gives racers a racing advantage over gas powered racing cars ("It makes it easier for our drivers to overtake other vehicles").

Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport): "We decided to compete with two hybrid vehicles in Bahrain. Our analysis has shown that we’ve got an advantage in traffic with the R18 e-tron quattro. It makes it easier for our drivers to overtake other vehicles. This means that with two hybrid vehicles we’re in a better position in the battle with Toyota. At the same time, we’re giving both our driver teams identical material in the battle for the title. Bahrain will be a completely different race than the previous rounds. We’re expecting very high temperatures. Unlike the most recent round in Brazil, Bahrain also takes a high toll on the brakes, which require good cooling. Handling the tires will be crucial too."
Tom Kristensen, No.2 Audi R18 e-tron quattro:  “In Bahrain, a large number of challenges are awaiting us that we’re all looking forward to. It starts with the hot climate, but the desert sand and driving in darkness are special too. Allan and I are expecting a lot of the R18 e-tron quattro after we were able to make good use of the car’s strengths at Le Mans. That’ll hopefully help us in the battle for the title.”
Allan McNish, No. 2 Audi R18 e-tron quattro:  “I think the race in Bahrain will be a lot different from our run in Brazil. With Le Mans, Silverstone and Interlagos, we’ve been experiencing a nice variety since June, and now something completely different is coming up again. Temperatures in the Middle East at this time of year can go up to 35 or 40 degrees. We’ll only be driving about an hour and a half or a maximum of two hours in daylight. But even when it’s dark the temperatures will hardly drop. I’m expecting a lot of the R18 e-tron quattro, which has been developed quite a bit further since Le Mans.”


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