When I was racing full time, one of my favorite things to do at the track was actually spend some time watching the cars in other series out on the circuit. It was a good time for me to absorb information – to watch the line that other drivers took, to see where it was that they were braking, and how and where they would pick the throttle back up.
Plus, some of the drivers in the other series would race a stint in my race as well, so it let me check out my competition a bit.
But what I really loved to do was simply to listen to the different cars. Especially the rip of the exhaust on the various highly tuned machines. With a good ear, you could tell the difference between a Ferrari powered GT car, or a BMW powered prototype. With your back turned, a savvy listener could discern between a Viper at maximum revs and full throttle, and a Corvette doing the same thing.
It is a part of the sport that has always been important to the fans and to us drivers. It is a way to take part in the visceral feel of the sport without ever setting your rear end in the driver’s seat. A lot of fans come to endurance races just to hear the cars – its intoxicating.
So, when Audi, the winningest marque at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, decided to introduce a whispering diesel powerplant in their all conquering R-10, it was met with more than its share of skepticism.
Since manufacturers put money into racing in order to develop a fan base, not turn it away, the diesel route was a gutsy one.
But, it paid off and paid off huge. It has , in fact, started a revolution in the sport in those series that allow it.
Because the diesel powerplant makes big power while using less fuel than its counterparts. Plus, it encourages the drivers to be easy and precise with throttle inputs owing to the massive amount of torque it generates.
In fact, the diesel powerplants have proven so effective at saving fuel that they often allow the teams that use them to avoid a pitstop or even two during a race. Again, this allows the drivers to conserve in their behavior, to hold back a bit knowing that their greatest chance of victory comes more in avoiding those time costing pitstops and avoiding any breakage of the car.
So even though they are quiet, and take away a bit of the excitement, it is hard to deny that the diesels are winning everything there is to win.
Since other manufacturers are jumping on the diesel trend in racing, Audi now has to find another advantage, and again, they chose a route that revolves around reduced fuel consumption as opposed to outright speed.
This year, Audi is introducing the first diesel hybrid ever to run at Le Mans.
All in the hopes again of getting better fuel mileage, better sustainability in the form of the utterly spectacular and aircraft like R-18 pictured above.
What does this have to do with Ecodriving?
While competition in the sport encourages engineers to change their designs, Ecodriving helps drivers to change their behavior.
With the same goals.
To get the competitive edge on the track and at the pump, which, in racing is often one and the same. Sounds like a great idea to me.
Ecodriving – it works.
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