Click above for a hi-res gallery of the Audi R8 GT3 car

The courtship between Audi and GT3-class racing teams has officially begun with the automaker's announcement that it has developed a GT3 version of the R8 sports car dubbed "R16" internally by its project overlords at Audi Sport . The rear-drive racer (GT3 regulations prohibit AWD) features a six-speed sequential gearbox, mostly production-spec suspension components, plus an updated front end and a large rear wing designed to keep it planted to the tarmac. No additional tech specs have been revealed at this time. Factory driver Frank Biela was at the wheel for the prototype's roll-out, and customer deliveries are expected to take place next fall. Look for the car to see wheel-to-wheel action against the likes of the Aston Martin DBRS9 and Jaguar XKR GT3 during the 2009 European racing season. We patiently await its inclusion in a future Gran Turismo update so that we can try it out, too.

Related GalleryAudi R8 LMS

[Source: Audi]


PRESS RELEASE:
Audi develops race version of the R8

* Customer sport programme with the mid-engine sportscar
* First races planned for 2009 season
* Factory driver Frank Biela completes roll-out

Ingolstadt – For the first time, Audi Sport will offer a racing sports car specifically developed for customer use in the form of the powerful 500 hp plus GT3 version of the Audi R8 which will be available from autumn 2009. The logistics and factory space required for the AUDI AG customer programme will be created over the next few months in Ingolstadt, Neckarsulm and Györ.

"The R8 is the first production Audi bearing the name and genes of a successful racing sportscar and is therefore an excellent base from which to build up our first big customer sport programme," explains Head of Audi Motorsport Dr Wolfgang Ullrich. "Ever since the R8 was unveiled we've been inundated with enquiries about a race version. With the Audi R8 we will offer customers a racing sportscar equipped with high-calibre technology and the typical Audi qualities, but which is nevertheless easy to handle."

The Audi R8 conforms to the production-based GT3 regulations allowing the car to be fielded in numerous national and international race series.

Because the GT3 regulations prohibit the use of four-wheel drive the Audi R8 comes with the typical GT rear-wheel drive. The power is transmitted via a newly developed six-speed sequential sports gearbox. The suspension uses almost exclusively components from the production line. A comprehensive list of safety equipment guarantees the highest-level of passive safety. A modified front end and a large rear-wing generate the required downforce for the race track.

The Audi R8, which bears the project name "R16" within Audi Sport, was developed under the direction of Audi Sport. Mid August, the first prototype successfully completed a roll-out in the hands of Audi factory driver Frank Biela.

The first test races in various European racing series are scheduled for the 2009 season. Delivery to the customers is planned from the autumn of this coming year.

The customer cars are manufactured together by Audi Sport and the quattro GmbH, which is also responsible for production of the Audi R8 street version, and Audi Hungaria Motor Kft. (Györ).