Audi officials in Neckarsulm, Germany have just handed over the first of a dozen R8 LMS race cars to Audi Sport Italia. The remaining race cars will be delivered to that team and five others over the next month and a half in preparation for the 2009 racing season that begins next month. The GT3 class, 500+hp V10 R8s will be run in five different championships across Europe this summer as Audi works out the kinks in the third branch of its racing program. The R8 LMS joins the LMP1 R15 TDI that debuts next week at the 12 Hours of Sebring and, of course, the A4s that run in the DTM.
Audi is looking to follow the successful (and highly profitable) path set out by Porsche with its customer race programs over the years. It will be interesting to watch how such programs evolve in the future with Porsche now firmly in control of the Volkswagen Group, including Audi.