The Essen Motor Show is now underway, and one of the bigger manufacturer unveilings was Audi's official presentation of the R8 LMS, the new GT3-spec racing car aimed at privateer teams. It's seen as one of Audi's so-called "three pillars" of motorsport. The automaker will not field a factory effort in the car, but it's expected that next year, several teams will be running the R8 LMS in various European series, as well as in the Nurburgring 24-hour endurance race. The €260,000 (plus VAT) asking price gets you the track-ready R8, which makes 500 horsepower from its mid-mounted V10. That power goes to the rear wheels (in GT3, AWD is a no-no) via a six-speed sequential gearbox. As you can see, the LMS certainly looks the part , with a subtly meaner nose, a big carbon-fiber front splitter, new mirrors, a giant rear wing, and a pretty wicked rear diffuser join the ten-cylinder engine among the changes made from road car to racer. Customer deliveries begin in Fall '09. Oh, to have a deep-pocketed benefactor... Audi PR follows the jump.
UPDATE: Video added after the jump!
Audi Motorsport based on three pillars in the future
* New LMP1 sports car for the Le Mans 24 Hours
* Development of the Audi A4 for the DTM
* Customer sport programme with the Audi R8 LMS
Ingolstadt – In future, the AUDI AG motorsport programme will be based on three pillars: During the 2009 season, the brand with the four rings will compete once again in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and in the DTM. Additionally, with the new Audi R8 LMS, Audi Sport offers for the first time a racing sports car specifically developed for customer use.
"We know just how important motorsport is for the success of the brand," emphasises Michael Dick, who as Chairman of the Board for Technical Development is responsible for the AUDI AG motorsport programme. "Therefore it goes without saying that Audi must also be present on the race track in economically hard times. It is all the more important for us to enter a motorsport category in which the cost-benefit calculation is positive."
Audi therefore continues to support sport prototypes and the DTM. With the Audi R8 LMS, Audi also offers customer teams a racing car incorporating high-quality technology and the typical Audi traits but which is, however, also easy to operate.
New diesel sports car for Le Mans
Audi aims to demonstrate "Vorsprung durch Technik" specifically in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Audi is just one victory behind Ferrari in the French endurance classic's all time winners' list following its eighth victory last June. Only Porsche has more wins at Le Mans.
Audi targets the ninth victory in probably the world's toughest car race, in which the development of alternative and fuel-saving power concepts are the focus of attention, in June 2009 with a newly developed LMP1 sports car. The Audi R15 TDI differs significantly from its predecessor, the R10 TDI, at first glance and features many technically innovative details with which Audi aims to maintain its supremacy in Le Mans.
The new Le Mans prototype is equipped with a smaller, lighter and even more efficient TDI engine. During the chassis and aerodynamic development Audi Sport engineers followed similar routes to those exhibited on the current Audi A4 DTM.
"It was clear to us that we must develop a new car if we wanted to continue to be successful in Le Mans," explains Head of Audi Motorsport Dr Wolfgang Ullrich. "The Audi R15 TDI is the result. The step from R10 to R15 is significantly larger than it was from the R8 to the R10."
Only the basic concept was carried over from the predecessor model: The R15 TDI is also powered by a TDI engine and is an open-topped roadster. Audi does not wish to release any further details at this time.
The first private tests with the new Le Mans sports car are scheduled for later this year. The R15 TDI will only be presented to the public immediately before its race debut in the 12-hour race in Sebring (USA) on 21 March 2009.
Audi Sport Team Joest will field three new R15 TDI prototypes in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Development of the 2008 championship winning DTM car
Audi competes in the DTM as defending champions with a development of the 2008 championship winning car and with an ambitious target: Audi aims to be the first automobile manufacturer in the history of the "new" DTM to win the title three times in succession.
The DTM version of the new A4, which set the standards during the 2008 season with eight pole positions and six victories, is optimised in every area and carries the project name "R14 plus" internally.
Four new A4 cars and up to five 2008 cars will be fielded by the proven teams Abt Sportsline, Phoenix and Rosberg. Audi also relies on known quantities for its driver squad: Every driver will be recruited from the driver line-up seen in action during the 2008 season in the DTM and R10 TDI.
GT3 race version of the Audi R8
With the GT3 race version of the R8, Audi has specifically developed a racing sports car for customer use for the first time. The Audi R8 LMS is powered by a 500 hp plus V10 engine and is available from autumn 2009 for a proposed price of 262,000 Euro plus VAT.
The new Audi R8 LMS will be seen in action on the race track during the 2009 season: Up to eight customer cars will compete in different European race series and in the 24-hour race at the Nürburgring, for which Audi Sport develops an endurance version of the R8 LMS. The factory itself does not plan to enter any races with the new GT3 car.
The experienced drivers Christian Abt, Frank Biela and Frank Stippler are involved in the Audi R8 LMS development.
Audi adds another pillar to its existing motorsport programme with the customer programme, which should be self-financing in the medium term. The new customer sport centre in Ingolstadt is conceived as a profit centre.
Motorsport represents huge value for Audi
"2008 was the largest and most successful motorsport programme in AUDI AG history," explains Head of Audi Motorsport Dr Wolfgang Ullrich. "We want to continue this in 2009. In view of the international economic and financial crisis, it is clear that motorsport must also make a contribution to reduce costs further. It is all the more pleasing that we have found a way to continue our two large projects, the new Le Mans sports car and the DTM, and added another string to our bow with the GT3 customer sport programme. This demonstrates just how valuable motorsport is for Audi."