Some car companies use ads or give out their new models for test drives to woo their customers. But Not Audi! The German car manufacturer has a no frills way to prove their car’s worth, taking it out on the race track for a survival test against the best, and the world is invited to watch the spectacle. But more often than not, Audi end up playing not just a survival game, they end up winning. Following that tradition, Audi debuted their two new race cars at the “Six Hours of Spa” – the second round of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) at the famed Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium on Sunday. And they made history at the event, not just by fielding the first-ever diesel hybrid race car in motorsport history, but also by recording a podium finish with it. Audi fielded their new R-18 Ultra and R18 e-tron (hybrid) Quattro cars at Spa and they proved to be too good for the others in the race, including rivals Toyota. The marquee entered two diesel R-18s and two hybrids and they had a stunning 1-2-3-4 finish in Belgium, the pure diesel beating the hybrid to the chequered flag but only by a small margin of 46 seconds, which is miniscule in endurance racing.
The Audi trio of Marcel Fässler, André Lotterer and Benoît Tréluyer, who were the Le Mans 24-hours champions last year, had the honour to take out the first diesel-electric racing car in history and they were in no mood to play second fiddle to their fully diesel teammates. In fact, they took pole for the race and led the early stages before a tyre choice gave the advantage to the R-18 diesel driven by Romain Dumas, Loïc Duval and Marc Gené and they maintained that till the finish line. The hybrid Quattro, with its far-from-optimum set-up and balance due to the front wheel drive, was clearly the star of the weekend though and its good showing promises a bright future, especially since the racing fraternity and international racing federation (FIA) are looking at means to reduce the carbon footprint of this global sport. Audi has been dominating endurance racing for a while now, being last year’s champions in the Le Mans 24 hours and winning the opening round of the WEC this year at Sebring in their last year’s car. And with this performance in their new car, one of which is a hybrid by the way, they seem to be set to continue dominating endurance racing. Toyota and the chasing pack will have to come out with a miraculous package if they have to catch the Audis by the time the endurance bandwagon reaches the shores of France for the 24 hours Le Mans endurance classic on June 16 & 17. Away from the race track, the result means that the average rubber-burning, speed freaks among us needn’t be that guilty about the adverse affects of your fetish on the environment any more. Green race cars, capable of beating, the best are in town. [ Source ]