• Apr 12, 2013
At last month's 12 Hours of Sebring, Audi raced its hybrid R18 e-tron quattro in the U.S. for the first and likely last time. Sebring is undergoing a change for 2014 where no Le Mans Prototypes (LMP) can participate. Audi has been involved in LMP races since 1999, including the historic 24 Hours of Le Mans, which we covered in-depth last year. Audi's R18 e-tron prototype was testing an interesting new technology to improve the driver's vision of the road ahead. When Audi moved to a closed-top chassis in 2011, their R18 racecar gained an aerodynamic advantage over the previous car. However, drivers faced a new challenge of seeing around the new A and B-pillars.

"We do have an A-pillar and the fender and the wide tires that is not perfect to see from the driver's eye line," said Audi Sport LMP project leader Chris Reinke. "They can't permanently view the complete front of the track, let's say. In front, yes, but not the complete side. We can't make and homologate a new monocoque to improve only this issue, so we will have a system which we will introduce at Sebring which will make up for that."

The solution involved fixing a forward-facing video camera placed right on top of the air intake. The camera feeds two video streams to displays in the pillars. Audi calls this system a "periscope," because of its similarity to the submarine observation apparatus. Surprisingly, the cameras and displays come from Audi's production cars. In this case, tech transferred from production car to racecar with the lane assist development team lending a hand.

"We said [to the development team]: we have an issue, we don't have ideal front view, what can we do? That's where the system comes from. We adopted a system from there; their camera systems, and eventually even the screens will be in the new racecar in Sebring," said Reinke.

Audi ended up dominating the race (just like at last year's Le Mans) taking a 1-2 sweep in the final outing for P1 cars. Clearly, technology plays a big role in winning.



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