Audi R18 e-tron

The Automobile Club de l'Ouest, organizer of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, has announced a number of rule changes for the 2014 race that open up the options for LMP1 racers and guide their technology closer to that of road cars, and that should also give fans even better racing than we're used to seeing. Probably biggest of all is loosening the restraints on engine design. Currently, gas engines are limited in size to 3.4 liters, while diesel displacement can be no more than 3.7 liters, with further turbocharger, supercharger and air restrictor regulation on top of that. Those are all gone – "The limitations of cylinders, restrictors and turbo pressures are removed."

Before you get ideas of this turning into a Group B for Le Mans, the cars will be limited to an "energy allotment" per lap. A fuel meter will allow a diesel-powered car 3.99 liters per lap, a gas-powered car would get 4.95 liters per lap, from tanks that are about 12 percent smaller.

All LMP1 cars will be required to have closed cockpits, within which the driver will sit a little further forward and slightly higher to provide more visibility and, it is hoped, cut down on accidents when lapping slower traffic. Weights have been reduced, from the current minimum weight of 900 kilograms to 830 kg for non-hybrids and 850 kg for hybrids, and according to the Speed TV report, "all factory entries will be required to compete with hybrid systems." The cars will also be thinnner. Another factory handicap (depending on how see it) is that "super-exotic materials" will be banned in order to force carmakers to use materials that apply to their mainstream vehicles and not just their supercars.

The ACO believes these new rules will "encourage the development of powerful and spectacular cars and also the development of technologies that have real meaning for the everyday motorist." Sounds good to us.
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