Audi's Climatic Wind Tunnel, the Key to Le Mans Success?
For years, Audi has been one of the main contenders to the podium. In 2011, the car maker plans to tackle the circuit with a new R18 TDI, a model that suffered some serious testing and tweaking before getting the green light for the race.
What sets Le Mans apart from most other races is the fact that it spans for 24 hours. In a full day, anything and everything can happen, especially from the weather point of view, ruining the day for some or winning the race for others.
Trying to tackle all the possibilities, Audi resorted to a wonder piece of technology, a climatic wind tunnel. Although, in essence, the tunnel is your everyday drag testing facility, it also has one unique feature: it can simulate any type of weather imaginable.
Located in Ingolstadt, the tunnel can replicate temperatures from minus 25 to plus 55 degrees Celsius, allowing the winds of up to 300 kilometers per hour to be either freezing or near melting point. What's more useful in the case of the Le Mans run is that the tunnel can simulate both sunlight and rain.
“We made many valuable discoveries in this area on the full scale car in the climatic wind tunnel and modified several things and especially in the airflow area,” said Martin Mühlmeier, head of Technology at Audi Sport.
“The reflective film on the roof was also validated with findings from the climatic wind tunnel. These are all important details to guarantee a good climate around the driver in the cockpit.”