Audi’s new contender for the 2014 World Endurance Championship (WEC), the R18 e-tron Quattro, covered its first kilometers in public traffic, in Le Mans’ city center.
Audi factory driver Tom Kristensen drove the diesel hybrid sports car from the Saint-Julien du Mans cathedral in the city center to the famous race track, home of the annual 24-hour race.
Audi’s new LMP1 race car completed the near-ten-kilometer distance through the city in a motorcade, did a lap on the Circuit Bugatti and arrived in front of the race track’s modern Welcome Center amid the applause of the invited international journalists and guests.
“I’ve been competing at Le Mans since 1997 but this was absolutely new for me, too, and very exciting,” said Tom Kristensen, who in 2006 had driven the revolutionary Audi R10 TDI on its world premiere – in Paris – in public traffic as well.
Audi also used the occasion to unveil a new livery of its Le Mans car, which includes white, silver, red and black. “The colors are symbolic. Silver emphasizes the past success in racing. As a very quiet color, it provides the base for our livery. White, as the second color, harmonizes well with silver and appears very light. It stands for the hybrid drive. White is used asymmetrically in order to symbolize the complexity of this powertrain technology,” explained Dirk van Braeckel, Design Manager Motorsport and Special Projects at Audi.
Black stands for lightweight design and is used for the front and rear wings, as well as on sections of the fenders and sides with highly defined geometric contours. A unique red – Audi’s performance color – completes the graphics.
The new Audi R18 e-tron Quattro is powered by a 4.0-liter V6 TDI engine which works together with a motor generator unit (MGU) at the front axle and a flywheel energy storage system.