Audi Turning to Ultra Lightweight Construction for Le Mans

The three Audi R18 TDI cars, which join the grid for the French endurance classic and make their first public appearance over the Easter weekend at the Le Mans test day, perfectly embody the lightweight design in a visual way, as they are “livered” in puristic carbon fiber.

“Carbon fiber is ideally suited for lightweight design and construction. We have deliberately made this material and the ultra lightweight technology visual for Le Mans. Lightweight design has occupied us for many years in motorsport. Everything that we have learnt over the years and especially about lightweight design and construction during development of the R18 TDI will also be available for our customers in the future – either in the form of greater performance or in the shape of low fuel consumption and lower emissions,” explains Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich.

“With the R18 TDI every component was optimized logically with regard to weight. The same applied to the chassis and the bodywork, the gearbox and the engine. We scoured the car for every superfluous gram,”
stresses Martin Mühlmeier, Head of Technology at Audi Sport.

Although the minimum weight for LMP1 cars at Le Mans is a featherlight 900 kg, the target is to produce a car weighing significantly less than this limit in order to optimize the weight distribution with the help of ballast and to lower the center of gravity as much as possible.

As a result, a complex process of fabrication has resulted in the body of the prototype losing 40 kilograms between the first and second version. “Such a consequent lightweight design is a high technical challenge,” says Christopher Reinke, Technical Project Leader at Audi Sport.
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About the author: Mihnea Radu
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Mihnea's favorite cars have already been built, the so-called modern classics from the '80s and '90s. He also loves local car culture from all over the world, so don't be surprised to see him getting excited about weird Japanese imports, low-rider VWs out of Germany, replicas from Russia or LS swaps down in Florida.
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