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Audi takes one-two win at Le Mans with its diesel hybrids, Toyota third; 13th success for Audi in 16 runs

Audi takes first and second at the 2014 Le Mans. Click to enlarge.

In front of nearly 300,000 spectators at the 82nd running of the Le Mans 24 Hours, Marcel Fässler/André Lotterer/Benoît Tréluyer (CH/D/F) and Lucas di Grassi/Marc Gené/Tom Kristensen (BR/E/DK) secured a one-two Audi victory in the LMP1 class with the R18 e-tron quattro diesel hybrids.

It marked the 13th Le Mans success for Audi in a tough race that was open for a long time. In the first hours, the Le Mans hybrid-drive prototypes of Audi (earlier post), Porsche (earlier post) and Toyota (earlier post) were battling it out on the Le Mans high-speed circuit. The decision in favor of Audi was only made in the penultimate hour.

Each team took a different approach to implementing a hybrid drive system to meet the new efficiency-oriented WEC rules.

  • The Audi Audi R18 e-tron quattro couples a V6 TDI mid-engine powering the rear wheels with an e-tron quattro hybrid system at the front axle, which uses an optimized flywheel energy storage system.

    For the first time, the engine’s turbocharger is linked to an electrical machine, which makes it possible to convert the thermal energy of the exhaust gas flow into electric energy—e.g., when the boost pressure limit has been reached. This energy also flows into the flywheel energy storage system. When the car accelerates, the stored energy can either flow back to the MGU at the front axle or to the innovative electric turbocharger, depending on the operating strategy.

  • The Toyota TS040 HYBRID features a four-wheel-drive hybrid boost system in addition to the 520 PS (513 hp, 383 kW) 3.7-liter V-8 gasoline engine. The TS040 HYBRID has a maximum power of 1000 PS (986 hp, 735 kW).

    Toyota Racing is using an Aisin AW motor-generator on the front axle added to complement the Denso unit on the rear. Under deceleration, the motor-generators apply braking force in combination with traditional mechanical brakes to harvest energy, which is transferred via inverter (Aisin AW at the front, Denso at the rear) to the Nisshinbo supercapacitor bank. During acceleration, the motor/generator reverses its function, acting as a motor to deliver a 480PS power boost.

  • Porsche’s 919 Hybrid drive system is based on a 2.0-liter V-4 gasoline engine that is compact and lightweight. The engine is a structural component of the chassis, and reaches a maximum engine speed of approximately 9,000 rpm. It features direct injection, a single turbocharger and thermodynamic recovery capabilities. The compact unit outputs around 500 hp (373 kW).

    Two different energy recovery systems harness energy to replenish the Li-ion battery pack used for energy storage and to provide boosting power. The first system is the innovative recovery of thermal energy by an electric generator powered by exhaust gases. The second hybrid system is a motor on the front axle utilizing brake recuperation to convert kinetic energy into electric energy.

    The single electric motor distributes its power to the two front wheels via a differential as needed. The advanced energy management unit for the battery is located near the center of the vehicle.

Following the serious accident of Loïc Duval in Wednesday’s free practice, Audi Sport Team Joest had to prepare the Nº 1 Audi R18 e-tron quattro in record time again from scratch and to replace Loïc Duval with Marc Gené. This team was tracking to a victory on Sunday morning but faced the change of an injector and a turbocharger. With a gap of three laps, the team of Lucas di Grassi, Marc Gené and Tom Kristensen took second place.

Marcel Fässler, André Lotterer and Benoît Tréluyer took the lead for the first time on Sunday morning, shortly after 5 am, after having put consistent pressure throughout the night on the Toyota that had been leading for a long time. As the turbocharger had to be changed on their R18 as well, car Nº 2 temporarily dropped to third place before moving back to the front in a remarkable recovery during which André Lotterer also set the fastest race lap of 3m 22.567s.

Car Nº 3, with Filipe Albuquerque, Marco Bonanomi and Oliver Jarvis, was hit in the rear at high speed by a GT Ferrari on the Hunaudières straight during a safety car period in pouring rain. The powertrain of the R18 was so heavily damaged in the incident that Marco Bonanomi was forced to retire after just an hour and a half.

We’ve seen many exciting races and celebrated great victories at Le Mans but this success has a very special significance. We didn’t enter this race as favorites and in Porsche and Toyota had two very strong rivals. That we managed to win Le Mans again this time in spite of this is a fantastic achievement by the whole Audi squad. We’re tremendously happy and my thanks go to all who have made this success possible.

—Professor Rupert Stadler, Chairman of the Board of Management of Audi AG



Good to see three different storage systems going head-to-head - flywheels, supercaps and batteries. I like the simplicity of caps and hopefully this type of competition will spur some new technology in the HEV segment.


Audi is not using electric generator on the turbo (ERS-H). They were evaluating it, but then they abandoned it.


I think Toyota had them this year, but when Lapierre wrecked the #8 car in the first rain storm, it just destroyed their chance. He still ended up finishing only like 6 laps down, but they spent nearly an hour repairing the car after that one. :-(
And the #7 was still leading the race till Nakajima got a hold of it and somehow made it die on the Mulsanne Straight! OK, that's not fair, he didn't do anything supposedly, but it's amazing how every time he gets in teh car, SOMETHING bad happens. LOL

I was hopeful for Porsche, but it's their first year back and Le Mans is *demanding*. So...they got some experience under their belt for the new team.

Next year, I expect Toyota to come back with a VERY strong car. There's been improvements in Supercaps and their partner Denso has a breakthrough in SiC tech to make the electronics 75% smaller/lighter. I expect them to field a very strong entry next year.


Yeah #8 was running problem free and would finish 5 laps in front on Audi if it werenet in accident.

As for #7 the car encountered an issue with the wiring loom of one of its scrutineering systems, and the team was aware of it and had just called in Nakajima. He didn't make in time the damn thing just melted and shorted :(

Next year we will see another contender in LMP1-H Nissan, if Toyota is serious they should compete with 3 cars. The odds are just too much against two cars ;)


Ahhh, thanks. I never did here what happened with the #7 car. I was traveling to a family reunion and kept catching the race at odd times and missed the time frame where Kaz died. I shouldn't give him a hard time, but after he lost track of where he was last year and caused a wreck...I was still frustrated over that. LOL

But I'm really, really looking forward to see what they do with the car next year and how they finish out this year. It would be great to see them take the championship for the season even if they lost out at Le Mans itself. And Porsche is getting some great run time in and they'll get the ship righted as well.

And next year we'll have Nissan cutting their teeth as well! I can't wait to hear the specs of what they're bringing to the party. I would expect them to go for the 8MJ classification as they are so big in the EV side.


Oh WOW! That came out REALLY wrong. I meant to say the "time frame where Kaz's car died". Was not intentional or trying to be funny there in the least. People obviously do die still at Le Mans as we found out last year with poor Allan Simonsen last year. So glad this year's race was injury free.

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