This photo-set was going to come after that of the number 17 Porsche that finished ahead of these R18 E-trons at the 24hrs of Le Mans, but I just heard that one of these badboys will be at the Festival of Speed this coming weekend so it’s jumped the queue…..can’t wait to see it again, although I doubt it will be reaching the same speeds as it did 10 days ago!
Although it’s been toppled from the number one spot at the LM24, the Audi
is arguably still the best looking and best sounding LMP1 car on the
grid, it’s an absolute spaceship!
Modern Le Mans endurance prototype cars are the most highly advanced racing cars in the world. The technology developed on the track is crucial to the everyday road car, and the length of an endurance race (6 to 24 hours) is the ultimate test for any new technology. These cars must be fast, but most of all they must be safe – for both the driver and the spectators. The main safety feature is the carbon-fibre composite aluminium honeycomb monocoque. Think of the monocoque as a bomb shelter for one. When a car crashes, the monocoque must remain in one piece, regardless the severity of the crash. Parts outside of the monocoque are wired so they remain connected to the car, even when broken. This ensures no large part of the car goes flying into the audience.
The last two photos are from a massive wreck during the 2011 24 Hours of Le Mans. Driver Allan McNish was unharmed. Decades ago, a crash like this would have resulted in a fatality.
The 24 Hours of Le Mans remains the World’s Greatest Endurance Race
Exotic carbon-composite sports cars designed for enormous aerodynamic downforce and fitted with hybrid powerplants producing a thousand horsepower? Check. The latest Le Mans prototypes push the technological envelope into territory totally unimagined in prior generations of racing. Forza corsa!
Audi R18 e-tron quattro. The Audi R18 e-tron quattro debuts a new bodywork configuration, Jan Monchaux, Head of Aerodynamics at Audi Sport, explains “Because downforce at Le Mans is not as important as it is at other tracks, we developed other solutions and new body shapes,” says Monchaux. “In this way, we reduce the drag. All the turning vanes, wings and similar elements are no longer mounted so steeply in the airflow; the curvature of the wing profile is less.” In addition to the bodywork surfaces, the technology beneath is also affected. “The cooling system’s requirements are different. We were able to reevaluate and adapt the flow across the cooler, because at Le Mans less air mass flow is necessary due to the higher speeds.”