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Bends Discusssion

Text
Paul-Janosch Ersing

Photos
Bernhard Huber

Audi R8 V10 plus*, Audi R8 e-tron and Audi R8 LMS

Three athletes created from the pursuit of uncompromising performance, together beneath a blue-and-white sky. Their pulses beat with the same rhythm, although the production sports car, the electric racer and the race car are all very different beasts.

On-site appointment at the Motorsport Competence Center in Neuburg an der Donau. The technicians from Audi Sport customer racing start up the V10 power unit in the new Audi R8 LMS “It has to warm up for a few minutes,” says a man who knows what he’s talking about – Romolo Liebchen, Head of the Audi Customer Sport Program. He’s playing a home game on this particular morning. Liebchen has a date for some gasoline-infused shop talk with the project leaders of the other two R8 variants.

“Officially, I have very little to do with gasoline,” counters Thomas Kubbe, who is responsible for the new Audi R8 e-tron, adding with a smile that he would have nothing against running a fast lap with his electric racer painted in electric blue. No wonder – the output of each of the two electric motors driving the new-generation R8 e-tron has been raised to 170 kW, with maximum torque now standing at 460 Nm each. The sprint from zero to 100 km/h takes just 3.9 seconds.

Mine is a tiny bit faster,” pitches in the third member of the group. Michael Fisseler, Technical Project Manager for the R8, has brought along the fastest production Audi ever – the R8 V10 plus. Its highrevving, naturally aspirated engine produces 449 kW (610 hp) and delivers thrilling responsiveness and a characteristic sound. The high-performance sports car reaches 200 km/h from a standing start in just 9.9 seconds, going on to a top speed of 330 km/h.

None of the three Audi development engineers seeks to hide their enthusiasm for their own car – yet each is looking with fascination at the other two variants. The new generation of the high-performance sports car is wide ranging, no other model with the four rings exudes more racing character. Alongside the highly emotional R8 production version for the road is the R8 e-tron, a hi-tech lab on wheels, and the R8 LMS, a full-blooded race car that has already celebrated its first successes.

For the first time, Audi pushed forward all three variants in parallel from the start. Production development engineers, race engineers and race drivers worked hand-in-hand together – from the concept definition to the sign-off drives. While project management lay with quattro GmbH, the specialist departments of AUDI AG contributed around 90 percent of the practical development work – a true piece of teamwork.

The day is heating up. By just before ten o’clock, the asphalt is already shimmering – the height of a Bavarian summer at its best. The three development engineers walk around the spearheads of the R8 lineup arranged trackside, comparing the tiniest of details. All are obviously proud – proud of a great, shared project that led to three fantastic cars.

Audi R8

Interview with Michael Fisseler –
Technical Project Manager R8

When was the go-ahead given for the development of the new R8?

Fisseler: We began with the first ideas for the second-generation R8 at the end of 2008, start of 2009. I was entrusted with the development of the concept for the all-new MSS platform (Modular Sportscar System), on which the Lamborghini Huracán is also based. It was one year later that we started the actual R8 project.

What are the most important aspects of the new body-in-white?

Fisseler: The first R8 already had an ASF (Audi Space Frame) body-in-white. We are taking the next step with the new model and focusing more keenly on the multimaterial approach, which combines aluminum with carbon-fiber reinforced polymer (CFRP). This saves us around 30 kilograms compared with a purely aluminum bodyshell, while increasing stiffness by 40 percent. In my view, we have struck the perfect balance between function and lightweight design.

Aside from lightweight design, which key points were right at the top of the specification document?

Fisseler: Without a doubt, performance. We had already decided at an early stage to position the new vehicle somewhat higher than its predecessor – while maintaining its good everyday usability. The outcome is the R8 V10 plus with a power output of 449 kW (610 hp) and a top speed of 330 km/h. That’s a lot and it’s also great fun, but the fastest production Audi to-date can also be a very relaxed drive.

When it comes to high-performance sports cars, the engine sound is an important distinguishing feature. What does the new R8 have to offer in that respect?

Fisseler: To my ears, our V10 engine sounds quite authentic – 100 percent mid-engine sports car; nothing has been artificially created. For an even sportier sound, the driver can use a switch on the steering wheel to open two flaps in the exhaust system, making it a bit louder and even more emotional.

The rear end of the R8 V10 plus features a distinctive spoiler, the form of which is evocative of the DTM race cars. What’s its purpose?

Fisseler: The attached wing is a functional element that completely fulfills its purpose – in combination with the large diffuser beneath, it generates more downforce onto the rear axle. Together with the drive-related measures taken at the front axle, this enables even more dynamic driving at high speeds.

Audi R8 V10 plus
3.2 seconds from 0 to 100 km/h,
9.9 seconds from 0 to 200 km/h,,
330 km/h top speed – the Audi R8 V10 plus is the fastest production Audi ever.

Audi R8 V10 plus

Type Mid-engine high-performance sports car
Engine Naturally aspirated V10
Displacement 5,204 cm3
Power 449 kW (610 hp) at 8,250 rpm
Max. torque 560 Nm 560 Nm at 6,500 rpm
0–100 km/h 3.2 s
Top speed 330 km/h

Interview with Thomas Kubbe –
Head of Development R8 e-tron

What were the biggest milestones for you during the development period?

Kubbe: The first thing that comes to mind is the point of the “concept freeze”. That was the stage at which the design of the R8 e-tron was consistent with the technical characteristics from the specification document. Once this milestone was reached, the detail engineering began – such as the integration of the high-voltage battery into the bodyshell structure or the illuminated sideblades with a multi-color light function.

The diffuser and the rear spoiler lip seem less elaborate than on the R8 V10 plus.

Kubbe: Yes, and the two of them together also perform a somewhat different function on the R8 e-tron. The combination generates slight lift instead of downforce. We can afford this because the big battery, which is a load-bearing part of the ASF, puts sufficient load on the rear axle – the axle load distribution is roughly 40:60 (front/rear). Further aerodynamic measures impact the cooling air intake and the underbody. The cd figure of the Audi R8 e-tron is just 0.28, which helps us a lot when it comes to range.

What are the main technical highlights of the R8 e-tron?

Kubbe: The R8 e-tron is in itself a real highlight. The requirement to carry over as many components as possible from the production R8 and yet to differentiate them, presented us with a whole lot of challenges. The specific radiator grille or the illuminated sidebaldes in place of cooling air intakes are two examples. As far as the charging concept is concerned, we turned to the Group resources and helped ourselves to the latest standard CCS (Combined Charging System). It brings the charging process down to well below two hours.

And how far can your car travel when fully charged?

Kubbe: In our specification document, the only word on the first two pages was “Range”. And we managed it – with a fully charged battery, the new R8 e-tron can now drive a distance of up to 450 kilometers. The new cells we’re using are massively energy optimized. The sprinting capability has been increased considerably compared with the previous model – it takes just 3.9 seconds to go from zero to 100 km/h. The R8 e-tron now reaches a top speed of 250 km/h – electronically limited, of course, and sustained. The simulation figures forecast that, with the new package, the car would stay below eight minutes on the Nürburgring Nordschleife.

The R8 e-tron is a lab on wheels for Audi. What technical aspects are of particular interest in terms of subsequent production use?

Kubbe: One important issue is correct thermal management in the different operating conditions. The sports car character was obviously a key factor for the R8 e-tron. Another focal point was torque vectoring, i.e. on-demand torque distribution by the electric motors at the rear axle. One more would be the electromechanical brake-by-wire system for maximum recuperation and the greatest possible efficiency.

Jens Kötz
Head of Networking Energy Safety

“Modular, highly flexible concept”

340 kW of power and a range of up to 450 kilometers – behind the imposing vital statistics of the new Audi R8 e-tron are extensive further developments to the battery. Jens Kötz, head of Networking Energy Safety, and therefore responsible for the Audi Competence Center that stands in front of the factory gates in Ingolstadt, talks us through the progress.

“The most important factor is the new, energy- optimized cell chemistry that replaces the cell chemistry used in the previous model,” says Kötz. “This step has enabled us to increase the battery’s energy density from 84 watt hours per kilogram of weight to 152 Wh/kg. This raises its rated capacity from 48.6 kWh to 90.3 kWh.”

The mighty, 2.35-meter battery system in the Audi R8 e-tron is shaped like a T and weighs 595 kilograms. The battery junction box on the transverse section of the T serves as both monitor and safeguard – managing a current of more than 1,200 amperes and a rated tension of 385 volts.

The 7,488 battery cells are packed into 52 modules of 144 cells each, layered on two and five “floors” respectively in the tunnel and rear section of the battery. The coolant circulates in a system of aluminum shells. Aluminum plates divide the “floors” and also form the battery’s load-bearing structure. In the event of an accident, they divert the forces into the R8 e-tron’s multi-material space frame in a predefined manner – with Audi simulating extremely high loads of up to 150m >g

“We had already developed the battery of the first-generation R8 e-tron as a modular system,” explains Jens Kötz. “We were able to switch over to the new cells without having to make major changes to the dimensions and the integration into the car. We are now transferring this module concept to our new models, meaning we are equipped to address any future changes in the market and all applications within the Group. In the competition between cell manufacturers and cell concepts, where the leadership frequently changes, we can always select whichever solution is best for our customers at that point in time.”

Audi R8 e-tron
More powerful, faster and with
greater stamina: The second generation Audi R8 e-tron exceeds
the last Audi R8 e-tron model
in all major criteria.

Audi R8 e-tron

Type High-performance electric sports car
Motor Two electric motors at the rear axle
Power 2 × 170 kW
Torque 2 × 460 Nm
0–100 km/h 3.9 s
Top speed 250 km/h
Range 450 km

Interview with Romolo Liebchen –
Head of the Audi Customer Sport Program

Just a few weeks after its world premiere, the Audi R8 LMS won the 24-hour race on the Nürburgring. A race car could hardly have had a more successful start.

Liebchen: For us, the 24-hour race was something of a final endurance test under competitive conditions. You really don’t know going into it what’s going to happen. At the end, it took quite a while for me truly to understand what a sensational story that actually was.

The new car generated its very own customer testimonial.

Liebchen: A triumph like that obviously makes a clear statement to the competition and, at the same time, increases interest among our customers. This effect applies to both the race car and the road-going sports car.

Have the production and race vehicle become more similar?

Liebchen: Just like the first generation of the R8, both cars carry the same genes. The race car shares around 50 percent of its parts with the production car.

Can you cite an example of the close cooperation with your colleagues from series production?

Liebchen: The race car chassis runs on the same line as the production version in the “Audi Böllinger Höfe” near Neckarsulm. The safety cage, which is very important for stiffness, is no longer put together inside the vehicle, but installed as a single piece. This takes place before the locally reinforced ASF gets its roof module.

What are other notable differences compared with the production model?

Liebchen: In terms of running gear, the GT3 race car is now more standalone. In motorsport, camber, track and ride height have to be repeatedly modified to the respective race track. The new solution allows our customers to make these adjustments in an extremely short space of time.

What other customer wishes have you addressed

Liebchen: We’re in constant contact with our customers, which means there’s always the opportunity for direct dialogue. We’ve made a huge step forward in terms of handling. The optimized weight distribution and the considerably more efficient control systems make the car even easier to drive, particularly for our gentlemen drivers.

What’s the situation with the engine – the heart of any race car?

Liebchen: The V10 unit is virtually identical to the production engine. The only deletion is the additional inlet manifold injection. The reduced complexity in engine control brought a major cost benefit for our customers, without causing any disadvantages in race application. The power output is determined by the respective regulations and the airflow limiters specified as part of them. For race use, it’s important that we’re now better armed for extreme situations. Thanks to the improved cooling concept, the car now deals better with extreme heat than its predecessor.

How heavily involved were the Audi race drivers in the development?

Liebchen: The expertise of real professionals didn’t just help us with the R8 LMS. Race drivers like Christopher Haase and Frank Stipler were also at the steering wheel when we were testing the production vehicle. It’s enormously important to have people in the team who are able to drive a new vehicle at its limits.

The development of a completely new race car costs a lot of money, doesn’t it?

Liebchen: There are no parts about which we didn’t ask, can we make that lighter, stiffer, better? We turned every single screw in the car. The car is now better than the last one in a great many details. One important issue is the cd figure, which is now 20 percent lower, at absolutely no detriment to downforce. This should benefit the new R8 LMS on fast tracks in particular. At the same time, we managed to maintain the same pricing level for our customers. I’m especially proud of that.

The Audi R8 LMS emerged as a winner from the word go. Is that how it’s going to stay?

Liebchen: We still have a whole load of solutions up our sleeves that we can’t use right now on account of the rules – that applies to the engine, the weight and the aerodynamics. The new R8 LMS has the potential to remain competitive throughout its entire lifecycle.

Audi R8 LMS
Lighter, more aerodynamically efficient, even more precise and more drivable than its predecessor –
the new Audi R8 LMS established itself
as the benchmark in its class
right from the start.

Audi R8 LMS

Type Racing sports car in accordance with the GT3 rules
Engine Naturally aspirated V10
Power Up to 430 kW (585 hp)
Homologation weight 1,225 kg
Bodyshell ASF from aluminum and CFRP, outer skin from CFRP
Transmission Six-speed racing transmission

Edward Sandström
Rennfahrer

„Arbeitsplatz klar verbessert“

Auch der Rennfahrer Edward Sandström hat den Weg nach Neuburg an der Donau gefunden. Im offiziellen Rennoverall klettert er ins Cockpit des Audi R8 LMS. „Der Arbeitsplatz ist für uns Fahrer jetzt viel besser, zum Beispiel ist die Belüftung optimiert worden“, kommentiert der Schwede die Neuerungen im Innenraum. Sandström war einer der Audi-Siegfahrer beim 24-Stunden-Rennen Mitte Mai auf dem Nürburgring. Dass es heute nur ein paar kurze Runden über das Testgelände geht, stört ihn nicht: „Ich genieße jede Sekunde, die ich in diesem Auto sitzen kann.“ Sagt’s, klappt das Visier des Helms herunter und startet den V10 – hinaus auf die Piste.

* Audi R8 V10 plus:
Kraftstoffverbrauch kombiniert in l/100 km: 12,3
CO2-Emission kombiniert in g/km: 287