|March 5, 2013
Audi Sport customer racing
The anatomy of a winner
Source: Audi Media
The motorsport professionals at Audi Sport customer racing have two fast cars available for customer teams – the R8 LMS ultra and the racing version of the
TT RS. Last season saw the large GT racer score victory after victory.
The close relationship between the Audi R8 LMS ultra and the series-production R8 is the result of a consistent and systematic strategy – suitability for motorsport was in the vehicle specification right from the start of the R8 development program. Romolo Liebchen, who is now head of Audi Sport customer racing, was tasked with safeguarding the necessary potential. He was, for example, able to convince his colleagues in series-production development to adopt double-wishbone suspension design for the rear axle, which offers good setup capabilities for racing applications. There were also a number of issues to be agreed with Audi Design, primarily around the rear end. The outcome of this discussion was a road-going sports car of dynamic elegance and with excellent motorsport qualities.
The finished production model delivers more than 50 percent of the parts for the race car. This unusually high proportion underscores the sporting competence of the series-production R8 and, at the same time, keeps a lid on the costs for the customer compared with some competitors. Audi Sport customer racing offers the R8 LMS ultra for 339,000 Euros plus tax.
It is not only development, but also production of the racing and road-going R8 that are closely intermeshed – the entire team at quattro GmbH is incredibly committed and enthusiastic. Specialists in bodyshell production at the Neckarsulm plant extract the Space Frame of the R8 LMS ultra from the production process and equip it with special fixing points for the running gear, because the race car sits a good deal lower than the road car. The underbody is also fitted with fixing points for the pneumatic jack; a steel safety cage is welded into the cell. After that, the bodyshell goes through cathodic dip coating in the same way as the regular R8.
Because of the cage, the body-in-white of the Audi R8 LMS ultra is 56 kilograms heavier than that of the road car; but, when finished, it has a curb weight of just 1,250 kilograms. Its outer skin, except for the roof, is made from carbon-fiber reinforced polymer (CFRP); it is 80 millimeters wider than the series-production model and has a larger rear spoiler. The Audi Sport customer racing workshop at the satellite assembly facility in Heilbronn-Biberach is left with a lot of additional equipment to install – from the air conditioning, through the insulating materials
to the many components of the vehicle electronics system. Not including the engine, the parts list consists of around 4,000 components; 1,000 less than the series-production R8. Two specialist assembly technicians work for around ten days on an R8 LMS ultra.
Aside from the reinforced bearing shells, the 5.2-liter engine is directly off-the-shelf. Even the intake tract is largely series-standard; all it requires is space for the two airflow restrictors that limit the output in line with regulations. The water cooler is somewhat set back in the chassis to ensure that the car remains drivable after a mild collision. The engine masters all the demands of racing service with ease – including 24-hour races with distances of around 4,000 kilometers, more than half under full load. The V10 is generally able to survive the season without overhaul.
When it comes to the transmission, the Audi R8 LMS ultra plows its own furrow. The specially developed racing transmission is equipped with a pneumatic manual shift controlled by the driver via steering wheel paddles. In line with regulations, the power flows only to the rear wheels. The wheel mounts and steering are from the series-production vehicle, while the adjustable anti-roll bars, springs and dampers are racing parts. The racing brake system features steel discs that allow the pads to be changed very quickly; the wheels are 18 inches in diameter.
The fire extinguisher system comes from the Audi Le Mans prototype; it is more expensive than conventional systems, but also considerably more effective. The racing seat is a brand new design made from CFRP; like the high-speed refueling system, it significantly exceeds the required safety standards. The CFRP doors reduce weight, while increasing passive safety with their energy-absorbing impact foam.
Two dozen new Audi R8 LMS ultra are being built for the 2013 season, increasing the number of R8 GT racing cars ever built to 120. A few weeks ago, quattro GmbH completed the 100th R8 LMS ultra. The race car is receiving a host of improvements for the 2013 season. They impact the aerodynamics, front-suspension pivot points and the wheels.
The new GT race cars are continuing in some highly successful tracks. From 2009 to 2011, the R8 LMS won 13 international titles, with the last season adding a further five new championships to the list. In 2012, no competitor scored more GT victories than Audi. There are no less than 18 successes on the list, including four achieved at tough endurance races – the 24-hour races at the Nurburgring, in Spa and Zolder, as well as the 12-hour race in Bathurst, Australia.
Customer sport with the R8 LMS is an international business. In 2012, Audi launched a single-brand trophy in China, the R8 LMS Cup. The brand is also active in North America, where January 2013 saw the revised Audi R8 GRAND-AM get the new season off to a great start – with victory in the GT category at the 24-hours of Daytona. Audi Sport customer racing supports ist customer teams worldwide – the parts store has 4,650 entries; last year, 47,862 parts were dispatched in 817 deliveries to 42 customers. Outside of the regular racing business, Audi customers can also book training courses with the R8 LMS ultra; the three-stage program extends all the way to participating in an actual race on the Nurburgring.
The TT RS has been part of the customer sport activities since 2011. The compact race car is specifically adapted for the SP4T class or the VLN Endurance Cup – it is a specialist for the Nurburgring Nordschleife. The five-cylinder turbo engine is derived from series production and generates 280 kW (380 hp); the driver operates the racing transmission sequentially. The car is front-wheel drive and, thanks to its sophisticated kinematics and efficient aerodynamics, the TT RS boasts outstanding traction and excellent handling.