Audi will field an updated version of its multiple race-winning R18 e-tron quattro LMP1 in the 2014 World Endurance Championship and the series’ highlight, the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Testing of the new race car, which has been kept under wraps up to now, commence this week in Sebring, Florida.
The tests will be focused on achieving high mileage and coordinating the highly complex hybrid drive systems, according to Audi motorsport boss Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich.
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Though it may look similar to the R18 e-tron quattro that helped drivers Allan McNish, Tom Kristensen and Loïc Duval secure the 2013 WEC title, there are some substantial differences. The new rules for WEC in 2014 are focused on efficiency, and require the use of even more advanced fuel-saving technology such as hybrid drive systems and diesel engines. Expect the car to once again feature a flywheel-based electric drive system paired with a powerful TDI engine.
The development of the 2014 R18 e-tron quattro started in 2012 and the first rollout took place by fall of 2013. Before the end of this month, Audi plans to reveal the race car in full. Two key rivals for the Audi next season will be the LMP1 of fellow Volkswagen Group brand Porsche as well as a new car from Toyota.
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While the initial testing of the 2014 R18 e-tron quattro is taking place in Sebring, it won’t ever face competition there. The new TUDOR United SportsCar Championship starting next year, made up of the old Grand-Am and American Le Mans Series, doesn't feature an LMP1 category.
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