Williams powers to victory in 24 Hours of Le Mans

The name Williams is synonymous with Formula One but the Williams Hybrid Power (WHP) group just dominated the 2012 running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans and that has all the earmarks of an amazing feat that few Formula 1 teams can boast. This year saw hybrid vehicles race at Le Mans for the first time, with WHP’s electromechanical hybrid flywheel system assisting to power the Audi #1 and Audi #2 to first and second place respectively.

The 24 hours of Le Mans is the world’s oldest and most gruelling endurance race, taking place annually since 1923 on France’s Circuit de la Sarthe. The two Audi R18 e-tron quattro’s dominated the race from start to finish, only relinquishing the lead once for a few laps on Saturday night. The two hybrid cars fought a close run battle throughout the night during which the lead changed several times before the Audi #1 car driven by Marcel Fässler, André Lotterer and Benoît Tréluyer emerged victorious.


WHP designed an entirely new, ultra-lightweight electric flywheel and associated power electronics for the Audi R18 e-tron quattro, working closely with Audi engineers to fully integrate the system into the car. The key features and benefits of the WHP system are highly suited to endurance racing and this made the WHP flywheel the prime candidate for Audi’s project when compared to other technologies such as batteries, ultra-capacitors or mechanical flywheels.


Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, Head of Audi Motorsport, said,

‘’This is no doubt a historic victory for Audi. We were the first to win Le Mans with a direct-injection turbo gasoline engine and the first to be successful with a diesel engine. It’s a great result that Audi is now the first brand to have achieved victory with a hybrid vehicle – and right on the first run, as before with the two other technologies, and – what’s more – with both R18 e-tron quattro cars on the two top spots.’’

An incredible job by the folks at Williams and if it weren’t for the size, bulk and FIA regulation on where the current KERS has to be located in an F1 car, this WHP would be the best option for the series.

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