Building the planet’s most advanced racecars requires the resources of auto giants such as Audi, Porsche and Toyota.
The FIA World Endurance Championship provides its top-tier manufacturers with an inviting rulebook to test tomorrow’s concepts, and with annual budgets surpassing $100m, factory LMP1 cars are designed to break every imaginable barrier.
Inventiveness and ingenuity fill Audi’s R18 e-tron quattro, Porsche’s 919 Hybrid, and Toyota’s TS040 Hybrid, with the highly diverse prototypes serving as rolling R&D laboratories.
Starting with Porsche’s 919 Hybrid, which won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June, the German creation is by far the most radical racing car that will race at COTA in 2015. Its turbocharged, 2-liter engine is unlike anything in the sport, thanks to its unusual V4 architecture.
The 919 Hybrid also makes use of two separate energy recovery systems; one is charged under braking through electric motors at the front wheels, and the other transforms heat from the engine’s exhaust into energy. A custom battery system stores the energy, which is then redeployed under hard acceleration.
The 919 can unleash a greater power output from its energy recovery systems than Tesla’s all-electric, 691hp Model D – and that’s on top of the 500hp-plus from its gasoline-fueled turbo engine.
Audi’s R18 e-tron quattro, which won at COTA in 2013 and ’14, uses a different approach from Porsche. It relies on its hearty and reliable turbodiesel V6 for most of its acceleration, with less emphasis on hybrid power. The R18 uses an innovative flywheel system to store the energy generated by its front-wheel motors, then sends it back on demand.
Toyota, which won the 2014 FIA WEC LMP1 title, splits its rivals with a strategy where its naturally-aspirated V8 engine and super capacitor-based hybrid system are close to equal on power levels.
For more on the WEC at
Circuit Of The Americas, check out
the bonus 20-page supplement in the
September 2015 issue of RACER magazine.
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