“Reliability, efficiency and sustainability are particularly important topics for car manufacturers today. And these are exactly the areas in which we have demonstrated our expertise this weekend,” said Audi Chairman Rupert Stadler after the Joest run Audi took their commanding win at Le Mans.
Sporting eyes where on the three car formation finish, the win that equalled Ferrari's record of La Sarthe wins (only Porsche now have more) and the new distance record with the winning trio (Timo Bernhard/Mike Rockenfeller/Romain Dumas) covering 5,410km eclipsing the 1971 record considered unbeatable since the introduction of chicanes carving up the Mulsanne Straight.
However Stadler and the rest of Audi team were quick to herald the dominance of the manufacturer's new technology, the car using a V10 TDI with a Variable Turbine Geometry (VTG) turbo-charger. The unit has been in development for three years, while VTG turbo-chargers are standard in all Audi's TDI road cars
“At Le Mans we're dealing with temperatures above 1,000 degrees centigrade which have not been encountered with production engines so far,” explained Ulrich Baretzky, Head of Engine Development at Audi Sport, hinting at the role Le Mans plays in developing technology for production vehicles. “As a result of downsizing, production development will enter into similar temperature ranges. This makes VTG another good example of how the technology transfer between motorsport and the production side of the house works at Audi.”
As well as using a new engine (in a new design of car) the team had to overcome the restrictions placed on the diesel powered cars, trying to eliminate the advantage they have built up over their petrol-engined rivals.
“Squeezing higher output out of the engines without sacrificing reliability posed a great challenge which our team mastered in an outstanding manner,” said Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. “We did not use the full potential of the V10 TDI engine this year in order to be absolutely on the safe side. That's why it was clear to us even before the race that we wouldn't have the fastest car – but a very reliable and efficient one.”
“The development objective of the R15 plus was 20 percent higher efficiency. We managed to achieve this. We've been working very hard for this exploit over the past few months. This makes this success, which was enabled by a perfect team performance as well, even more rewarding.”