The R8 LMS Ultra picks up where its predecessor left off – and that's quite a starting point: In just three years, the R8 LMS has won 115 races and 12 championships on racing circuits around the world. The improvements encompassed in the Ultra, however, promise to increase that number significantly.
Compared to the existing R8 LMS, the R8 LMS Ultra has lost some weight (thanks to carbon reinforced plastic doors), been made safer (thanks to new safety foam and racing bucket), gained a new transmission, had its cooling and breathing improved, its weight better balanced, its suspension and rolling stock beefed up and its aerodynamics optimized.
The same production-based 5.2-liter V10 carries over essentially unchanged, offering up to 570 horsepower depending on the regulators mandated by various racing series. The R8 LMS Ultra conforms to standard GT3 regulations, and can be yours for the low, low price of 329,900 euros ($445k USD) with deliveries beginning in March. Details in the press release after the jump, high-res photos in the gallery.
Audi R8 LMS ultra to be launched in 2012
- Deliveries of new vehicle to start in March 2012
- Next generation of successful customer sport race car
- Further technical development for even better performance
Ingolstadt, November 17, 2011 – In 2012, the Audi R8 LMS ultra will succeed the successful R8 LMS GT3 sports car with which R8 LMS customers have won 115 races and 12 national and international titles in the space of just three years.
Improving a totally successful vehicle yet again: This was the challenging task specified for the engineers of quattro GmbH. Audi's wholly owned subsidiary that has been responsible for the customer sport program as of this season pursued a clear aim for this project. "Our customer teams provided us with valuable suggestions and stated their wishes for the various fields in which the car is used," says Werner Frowein, Managing Director of quattro GmbH. "We have close ties to our customers and analyzed their suggestions and wishes worldwide, and subjected the R8 LMS to further development in many details. In the R8 LMS ultra we consistently implemented all the performance measures which ensure that we'll be able to continue to offer an intercontinentally competitive and attractive race car in the future."
Romolo Liebchen, Head of Customer Sport at quattro GmbH, and his development team focused on several central areas. New doors made of CFRP (carbon fiber reinforced plastic) in combination with high-energy absorbing new crash foams not only help reduce the race car's weight even further but also result in another increase in passive safety. The new PS1 safety seat developed by Audi, which is now part of the standard equipment, serves this purpose as well. It offers perfect protection and clearly surpasses the mandatory minimum requirements under extreme loads.
An updated transmission provides additional reserves on long-distance runs. In the past season, the Audi R8 LMS had already made its mark as an excellent long-distance expert and achieved overall victories at the Bathurst (Australia) 12 Hours, the Spa and Zolder 24 Hours and GT3 class victory plus third place overall at the Nürburgring 24 Hours.
A new exhaust system equipped with race catalytic converters helps improve the engine's characteristics. The V10 mid-engine can draw on even higher torque at lower engine speeds. The 5.2-liter unit delivers a power output of up to 419 kW (570 HP), depending on restrictor regulations. It is still based on the production engine produced at Audi's plant in Györ, Hungary. Mileages of up to 20,000 kilometers were certainly typical in customer operations before and continue to be easily achieved.
The optimized cooling system of the race car successfully combines several objectives. In addition to a larger engine oil cooler and transmission fluid cooler, an oil cooler for the steering hydraulics that used to be installed at the front is now located in the vehicle's mid-section. The characteristic side blades of the Audi R8 enable enlarged air vents for the cooling system in the new R8 LMS ultra for improved thermal management. At the same time, air supply to the radiator at the front of the vehicle has been improved, as has the interior ventilation.
The chassis of the Audi R8 LMS ultra was updated in several steps. At the front 12-inch, instead of 11-inch, wheels are now used. As of the next season, development partner Michelin will be offering wider – 30-65/18 – tires, which allow more consistent lap times to be achieved. Optimized brake cooling at the front wheels improves the durability of the braking system. Instead of the previous silent rubber mounts the transverse control arm mounts now feature uniball joints. Weight-reduced compression and rebound-adjustable gas dampers with optimized characteristics from partner Bilstein complete the chassis package and represent the latest state of development.
Aerodynamic improvements complement the changes for 2012. The wider front hood has been optionally provided with louvers, subject to permission by the homologation rules for the various racing series. The new rear wing has been widened and now features larger end plates. Work in the Audi wind tunnel has led to a yet more efficient position of the wing for maximum downforce and minimized aerodynamic drag. The improved air flow and larger effective area increase downforce on the rear axle. A new front plate with optimized diffusion under the front end guarantees perfect aerodynamic balance.
As of 2012, all new vehicles will be equipped with the evolution stage described above. For the existing vehicles, quattro GmbH offers conversions to the 2012 evolution stage.
In addition, Audi is pursuing a subsequent homologation for individual aerodynamic improvements to include the 2011-generation vehicles. This ensures that the current model continues to be competitive with slight modifications.
"We're convinced that the Audi R8 LMS ultra will continue the successes of its predecessor," stresses Romolo Liebchen. "With over 40 customer sport vehicles delivered, the first generation of the R8 LMS was already a sporting and commercial success."
The selling price of the Audi R8 LMS ultra is EUR 329,900.00 plus VAT. Deliveries will commence in March 2012.