Audi unveiled its all-new Audi R18 at the Audi Training Center Munich over the weekend (November 28th). Audi Sport has fundamentally re-designed the Audi R18 ahead of the 2016 season, with an innovative aerodynamics package, the ‘next stage in lightweight design’ and a modified hybrid system with lithium-ion batteries for energy storage, plus a revised TDI engine.
The new powertrain orientation will see the car step-up to the six megajoule sub-class of the LMP 1 category, which the company believes should put the latest R18 on equal performance terms with the petrol powered Porsche and Toyota entries.
“With our new Audi R18, we’re setting a clear signal: Audi continues to put the pedal to the metal in motorsport, deliberately relying on TDI at Le Mans,” commented head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich.
For the 2016 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC), which will start at Silverstone (UK) on April 17, Audi Sport Team Joest will be fielding two new Audi R18 cars. Following the VW Group’s emissions scandal, the team – and sister brand Porsche – has also announced that it will contest the Le Mans event with just two cars, instead of the most recent three cars. This means that Nico Hulkenberg will be unable to defend his 2015 Le Mans crown, although a Formula 1 calendar clash with the provisionally-listed Azerbaijan round had already potentially ruled a defense out.
Away from its flagship LMP 1 campaign, Audi Sport also announced its other racing programs at the weekend’s event. In the DTM, Audi will retain all of the eight drivers that were in the field in 2015. The eight Audi RS 5 DTM cars will continue to be fielded by the long-standing Audi Sport Teams Abt Sportsline, Phoenix and Rosberg.
In GT racing, the development of the new Audi R8 LMS has been completed and deliveries to customers have begun. Due to the high demand, Audi Sport customer racing is exploring possibilities to expand the production scheduled for the 2016 season. Originally, 45 cars were planned.
Audi customer teams will be fielding the new Audi R8 LMS on four continents in the 2016 season. In the Audi R8 LMS Cup in Asia, the new model will be debuting in 2016 as well. Special highlights on the calendar of Audi Sport customer racing are the two 24-hour races at the Nürburgring (D) and at Spa (B), the 12-hour race at Bathurst (AUS) and the FIA GT World Cup in Macau (MAC).
Finally, following its successful inaugural season, the Audi Sport TT Cup will again be held as part of the supporting program of selected DTM events. The number of permanent entrants will increase from 18 to 20. The final selection of the young drivers will be made following an evaluation course at Vallelunga (I) on December 4/5. In total, quattro GmbH received 125 applications from 35 nations.
“We’re proud about being able to again represent the Audi brand in 2016 with such an extensive commitment in motorsport,” says Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. “The new Audi R18 marks a major step that we’re expecting a lot of at Le Mans and in the WEC. In the DTM, we already had the strongest car in 2015. That’s what we’d like to build upon.”