• Braking energy is
harvested by a pair
of Motor Generator
Units (MGUs), each
rated at 75KW.
• Energy (max
500KJ) is stored in
a Williams Hybrid
located in the
• A 3.7-liter, 510hp
powers the rear
wheels. Then, above
120km/h, a 150KW/
200hp boost kicks
in from the MGUs
on the front axles.
Rick Dole/Getty Images
Drew Gibson/Getty Images
entirely different and that the system was
still operating, but not at its optimum.
Whatever the nuances, the fact remains
that an R18 e-tron with hybrid systems that
were not fully functioning was able to hold
an advantage over its problem-free sister
e-tron in the closing stages of the race.
That a hybrid R18 apperas to be no
quicker than the non-hybrid car has to lead
to the conclusion that the energy recovery
and storage systems are not offering the
advantage they should for Audi. That’s
certainly what Toyota seems to think.
“Without the hybrid system we would
be nowhere,” says Pascal Vasselon,
technical director at Toyota Motorsport
GmbH, the German-based organization
masterminding the Japanese marque’s
return to top-flight sports car racing. “We
get a lot of our performance from the
hybrid system. At Le Mans it was 2.8sec
per lap, so without the hybrid, we would
not be close to being competitive.”
Vasselon has got an agenda, of course.
There’s the gasoline-diesel equivalence to
consider, and he argues that the odds are
stacked against Toyota’s normally-
aspirated, 3.4-liter gasoline V8. But the
implication is that the Audi system isn’t a
patch on Toyota’s.
Others who’ve driven a current-generation hybrid believe that the 500kJ
kick from the energy-recovery system,
which is allowed a specified number of
times a lap (seven on the long Circuit de la
Sarthe at Le Mans, but only five at Spa, for
example), should be worth a significant gain
in lap time for a hybrid over a non-hybrid.
(LEFT) Bar an “H Y”
sticker and a reminder
on top of the airbox as
to whether the KERS
system is live, the Audi
e-tron doesn’t shout
“hybrid.” (BELOW) Audi
went all-e-tron for the
last three WEC races.
ILLUS TRATION: Paul Laguette