Hybrid technology takes Michelin Green X Challenge chequered flag
Audi Sport made Michelin Green X Challenge history at this year’s Twelve Hours of Sebring race in the US, becoming the first hybrid powered vehicle to claim victory in the country’s premier environmental motorsports competition. The Audi R18 e-tron Quattro driven by Marcel Fassler, Benoit Treluyer and Oliver Jarvis – a prototype that previously won both last year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans and FIA World Endurance Championship – added a third feather to its cap on 16 March.
“Audi was the first to win the Michelin Green X Challenge and the Twelve Hours of Sebring with diesel power, and now their success with the Audi e-tron Quattro further demonstrates that innovative technologies can be fast, clean and efficient,” commented Silvia Mammone, motorsports marketing manager, Michelin North America.
The victory was the fourth for Audi in the five-year history of the Michelin Green X Challenge and the 33rd time that an American Le Mans Series race winner has also claimed the environmental honours. Taking Michelin Green X Challenge GT class honours was the Houston-based Risi Competizione Ferrari 458 Italia driven by Olivier Beretta, Gianmaria Bruni and Matteo Malucelli. The team’s Ferrari finished second in the fiercely contested GT class, surrendering the class lead with just ten minutes remaining in the 12-hour race.
Now in its fifth season as part of the American Le Mans Series, the Michelin Green X Challenge is the only series currently recognised as ‘Green Racing’ by the US Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency and SAE International. Michelin Green X Challenge trophies are presented to the respective Prototype and GT winners; the bases for the unique trophies are made of rubber recycled from Michelin Green X labelled consumer tyres.
Audi’s R18 e-tron Quattro is based on the R18 ultra and combines a turbo diesel engine with electric wheel motors energised by a flywheel storage system. The energy recuperated during braking is stored electrically in a carbon-fibre flywheel before being released to the front axle under acceleration, while the V6 TDI engine, which produces over 375 kW (510 hp), transmits its power to the rear wheels. Audi notes that although this may sound simple, the technology is “extremely challenging” to implement. “This is a technology that has never been tested in motorsport and which still doesn’t exist in production in this form,” stressed Dr. Martin Mühlmeier, head of technology at Audi Sport, prior to the R18 e-tron Quattro’s motorsport debut.