In the week following the 12 Hours of Sebring, +Audi USA and +Highcroft Racing stuck… 3

In the week following the 12 Hours of Sebring, +Audi USA and +Highcroft Racing stuck around the Florida race track to work on preparing their mounts for 24 Hours of Le Mans in June.

While Highcroft will only be running the +Nissan DeltaWing in France, Audi will be running the full World Endurance Championship schedule with both the R18 TDI Ultra (turbodiesel) and the hybrid R18 e-tron Quattro.

The e-tron uses an electro-mechanical flywheel system to recapture energy under braking and then feed it back to the front wheels through electric motors while accelerating. The flywheel system has been in development for several years now and was originally created by the Williams F1 team.

+Porsche licensed it from Williams in 2010 and continued development in the 911 GT3R hybrid in 2010-11. When Porsche first installed the 40,000 rpm system in the 911 in 2010, it added about 100 pounds to the car. The revised version used in 2011 cut that mass to about 70 pounds and the unit in the R18 is now down to about 50 pounds.

When I first talked to Porsche engineers about the flywheel system ( they indicated that it probably wouldn't show up in a production 911 anytime soon but they said they were making the flywheel unit smaller and lighter. The original version sat where the passenger seat normally goes in a 911. Porsche hinted at the possibility of a future version of the 911 Cup cars with smaller unit mounted behind the seats where the vestigial back seat normally goes. It sounds like they have achieved their goal of shrinking the flywheel and I wouldn't be surprised to see a hybrid Porsche Cup car in 2013.

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3 thoughts on “In the week following the 12 Hours of Sebring, +Audi USA and +Highcroft Racing stuck…

  • Melina M

    I had no idea Porsche didn't develop it in house originally. Thanks for the mini history lesson. 🙂

    Although the thought of a 40,000 rpm flywheel in the passenger seat scares me a little, I'm somehow more ok with it in the back seat.

    I was just discussing this car with +John Hostile yesterday. He and +Tom Szelag may find this post of interest.

  • Sam Abuelsamid

    +Melina M the flywheel is actually made of a composite material impregnated with magnetic particles so that it can act as both the flywheel and the rotor for the motor/generator. The whole thing is encased in carbon-fibre and kevlar. to protect the driver in case it disintegrates.