This is one of those rare opportunities when you get to get a glimpse inside Audi Le Mans – one of the winningest and dominant racing teams in the history of endurance motorsports. Audi invited TFLcar to the 6 Hours of Austin, Texas FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) race and the introduction of the 2015 Audi S3.
Audi were gracious hosts and offered an opportunity to tour their garage and the pits. Naturally, we jumped at the opportunity and grabbed our main video camera, tripod, and several more smaller cameras. Audi representative kindly smiled and shook his head. There are absolutely no cameras or recording devices allowed in the garage and the pits. No cellphones either.
WEC teams travel all over the world in the bid for the championship. They have to bring everything with them. Audi team tent is right behind the main paddock structure. It rained earlier in the race and several areas still had standing water. Part of the floor of the Audi tent was wet and the team used wooden pallets as walking platforms.
There were two Audi R18 e-tron quattro race cars circulating with real-time telemetry pouring from hundreds of sensors. Each tire has no fewer than five temperature sensors. Every component is being monitored: the turbo-diesel V6 engine in the back, flywheel energy recovery and electric motor in the front, transmissions, brakes, and much, much more. The R18 racecars have on-board GPS systems so that the cars know exactly where they are on the racetrack. Each car is pre-programmed for each track so maximize e-tron quattro hybrid system power, power delivery, and efficiency. WEC has strict rules on how much fuel or energy a car can use over the course of the race, so efficiency is as important as the speed.
The R18 cars are very smart. When the driver requests full power coming out of corner #1, the car knows which corner it’s in and uses the stored profile to deliver and distribute the power among the four wheels.
All the information and decisions are communicated in a very controlled way to/from the drivers. Only one person is allowed to communicate to each driver.
The garage and the pit area is just as impressive. Spare body components are stacked ceiling high to maximize space. The crew members move deliberately and calmly. These guys wear their full jump suits and helmets. It is very humid and hot. It’s no picnic.
Audi team is very good at what they do, and everything is fine-tuned to a precise science. This is the type of effort that is required to win Le Mans 24 hours race 13 times.
Andre Smirnov is a life-long automotive enthusiast, writer, reporter, and software engineer. He has been writing and reporting at TFL since 2011.