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You might think now that Porsche is firmly ensconced in the Volkswagen Group family, challenging Audi for overall victory at Le Mans isn't on the to-do list. Apparently, you would wrong. With 16 overall victories, Porsche has more wins at Le Mans than any other manufacturer. However, while Porsches have continued to do well in GT, the marque's last overall victory came in 1998. Plans to build a prototype early this decade were abandoned, although the V10 engine developed for it eventually found its way into the Carrera GT.

New Porsche CEO Michael Macht evidently wants more overall victories, and while Volkswagen will soon control Porsche, family member Ferdinand Piech is chairman of VW's supervisory board. With the resources of the group available, Porsche could develop a new car to go for number one. No timetable has been given, but this actually wouldn't be the first time that there has been an internal battle at Le Mans. Earlier in the decade, Bentley also ran a prototype coupe based on the Audi R8.

With the interest in promoting alternatives like diesel at Le Mans and Porsche soon to debut a hybrid, a prototype with a similar system is not beyond the realm of possibility.

[Source: AutoCar]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      "Earlier in the decade, Bentley also ran a prototype coupe based on the Audi R8."
      Didn't Audi conveniently pull out that year so that Bentley could run the Audi car re-bodied and win the whole thing?
        • 5 Years Ago
        I'm not arguing the technical brilliance of the R8, but you're giving too much credit to Audi for the Speed 8's development. The Bentley was indeed designed from the ground up around the R8's engine. The gearbox internals were the same as well, as were to a large degree, the electronics. That's where the similarities end. Look at the raised and cowled upper control arms up front - that design was carried over almost completely intact to the R10 and copied by the 908 and some degree, the ARX-02. The design still used by today's top sports prototypes was Elleray's work, not Audi's.

        I just want to clarify the statement in the article. "Bentley also ran a prototype coupe based on the Audi R8." That is not entirely true. The R8C might be a better candidate for an ancestor, but as for the world-beating R8, aside from the engine (that we agree upon) the Speed 8 does not draw it's lineage from it.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @ Dr. Nick , Audi even offered their factory drivers to drive the winning Bentley.
        • 5 Years Ago
        The Speed 8s weren't based off the R8. The original concept car was based loosely on the R8C, but the subsequent race cars were progressively different. The final and winning iteration (2003) had very little in common with its Audi ancestor save for the TFSI engine. Peter Elleray was tasked with a clean-sheet design of the 2003 car with remarkably different aero and suspension as compared to its counterpart at Audi, the R8.

        Unlike production cars, the aerodynamics and bodywork of LMP/LMGPT cars are absolutely essential engineering products that affect everything from handling balance to suspension design and of course speed, as airflow management is essential to the performance of these machines. Look at the front end of the 2003 Bentley. It bears no resemblance to the R8, and except for the powerplant it was a completely unrelated car. Aerodynamically, the R10 is more related to the Speed 8 than the Speed 8 is to anything that came previously.

        Audi's top squad, Team Joest ran the Bentley Speed 8 in the 2003 24 Hours of Le Mans to help ensure Bentley's victory. Yes, they did race against R8s, but only customer cars fielded by private teams as the factory team was running the Speed 8s. having accomplished their goals, the Speed 8 was retired.

        Now that we have that cleared up, Porsche vs Audi at Le Mans? Sure I don't see why not, but they certainly know better than to spend double the resources on a single result. I don't think we will see competing factory entries from Audi and Porsche. Considering most sports prototype programs only run for a few years, perhaps Audi and Porsche could alternate chassis iterations? Obviously their natural choice of engines would differ, making for packaging issues from one to the other, but I'm sure many of the lessons learned from the R15 could be used in a future Porsche, and lessons learned from that car could be applied to the subsequent Audi. Porsche already has a 2011-ready LMP1 engine from their current RS Spyder, while Audi will need a completely new package for the upcoming regulations change.

        • 5 Years Ago
        Withdrawing a car that is still approved to race is somehow part of the development of a new car by what you claim is an independent group? Come on, you weren't born yesterday, I've seen your posts from long before that!

        As to the idea that GTP was going to be the future, well, it never happened and everyone knew it long before the Speed 8 debuted (obviously, since no one else made any closed-top cars for 5 years after) and of course before the R8 also mysteriously withdrew.
        • 5 Years Ago
        The drivetrain was as near identical as possible with just a minor swap of a little displacement for less boost. The chassis takes the same components, just a nip and a tuck here and there because of the slightly different dimensions of the car.

        So you say it has different aero. I think the changes are overstated, but even if they aren't, that's peanuts compared to what is the same. And I'm not saying aero is really easy either. But in order to win, you must first finish, and Bentley was handed the engine and drivetrain Audi had developed that was dead nuts reliable and while still developing a lot more power than anyone else. So reliable and powerful that even with the boost cut way down (1.66 bar to 1.33 bar, IIRC), more weight and much tighter restrictors it still was able to win the day with privateer (in as much as the R8s ever had privateers, bonehead Audi) teams in 2005. The R8 was drafting the Corvettes the entire length of the Mulsanne straight because it was so slow, but it still won.

        The entire running gear from the R8, the team from the R8, and a new shell over top. That's the Speed 8 for you.

        Lessons learned from the R15? What are the lessons of the R15? Other than showing that Audi is the king of exploiting unevennesses in the regulations, how did the R10 or R15 advance the state of the art? Put the boost back on the R8 the way it was day 1 and it would beat the R10 and R15 with no problem everywhere but Le Mans and maybe even at Le Mans too.
        • 5 Years Ago
        conveniently? erm. If you call scrambling to build a brand new car to adhear to new standards the coming year convenient?


        VAG's quite intelligent, the win at LeMans helped them debut the continental GT, but the Audi team didn't build the Speed 8, didn't support it or race it. To lesson the accomplishment of Racing Technology Norfolk is giving VAG a little too much credit.
      • 5 Years Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      can someone cue the theme song from "family fued"
      • 5 Years Ago
      Come on Porsche (err VW), bring an updated GT1 to LeMans.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I indeed "would wrong".
      • 5 Years Ago
      As people where I'm from say "cards to their hands".
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