They say a beautiful racing car is a fast racing car. Whoever ‘they’ are probably haven’t clapped eyes on the new-for-2016 Audi R18 LMP1 . It’s certainly not the prettiest, but given the power that lurks beneath its air-bullying physique, there’s little fear it’s going to be tardy either.
Compared with last year’s World Endurance Championship contender – which ended Audi’s seemingly unstoppable Le Mans record when it was beaten by Porsche – the 2016 R18 has a much narrower nose profile and wider front aero elements spanning the gaps to the front wheelhouses.
The rear wing also looks to have gone down a size or two, presumably to cut drag, while complex Venturi tunnels (highlighted in red) suggest Audi has found alternative means of taming the invisible witchcraft of aerodynamics.
While the bodywork’s been in the wind tunnel – then attacked with a hacksaw – Audi’s powertrain boffins have been fettling the R18’s oily and electronic bits. And when we say ‘fettling’, we mean ‘throwing a large amount of it away and starting again’. Though the bi-turbo V6 turbodiesel is merely ‘revised’, the hybrid booster system has had a clean-sheet redesign, now featuring battery-based energy storage in place of the old flywheel set-up. More power and better effiency are claims that chime nicely with Audi’s typical road car releases.