April 11, 2000

Ricardo Transmission Helps Audi to First Sportscar Victory

* Advanced transmission by Audi's technical partner proves its resilience for 1-2 result in Sebring 12-hour race.

* Ricardo rear differential shares similar success with Viper Team Oreca, which achieved a 1-2-3 placing in the GTS class

BELLEVILLE, Mich., A state-of-the-art transmission designed and developed by Ricardo has helped Audi's R8 racing sportscars score a one-two finish in the Sebring 12-hour endurance race in Florida on March 18th, 2000.

The independent vehicle-engineering consultants faced new and complex challenges in designing the transmission and casings for the prototype class sportscars, including the need to reduce the overall weight of the transaxle by 20 kg and its size by 20 percent without compromising reliability.

The transmission forms an integral part of the vehicle structure and has to carry all aerodynamic and suspension loads at the rear of the vehicle, including lateral forces of up to 2g. The all-new transmission was designed and manufactured in 16 weeks and ran for the first time in January.

The Ricardo motorsport transmission has to cope with 610bhp and 700Nm of torque from the Audi R8 twin-turbocharged 3.6-liter V8 engine. Peak loads are reached each time a sequential shift is made, and it is estimated that each sportscar will have changed gear up to 14,000 times throughout the race.

"We're delighted to have played a part in Audi's success," says Mark Barge, director of motorsport, Ricardo Midlands Technical Center. "To win a 12-hour endurance race you first have to finish the race, and for a component as highly stresses as a motorsport transmission that is a worthy and worthwhile challenge."

The dominant Sebring performance marked Audi's maiden sportscar victory. The two racecars each completed 360-laps, a near record distance of over 1,300 miles. Audi also smashed the lap record by almost 1.5-seconds on the grueling, punishing and bumpy 3.7-mile circuit. Both Audi's started the historic race from the front row.

The Sebring 12-hours is the first of 12-races comprising the American Le Mans Series (ALMS), a championship that includes a 500-kilometer evening race at Silverstone on May 13. The latest round of the series was held on April 1 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Ricardo shared similar success at Sebring with the Dodge Viper GTS-R sportscars entered by Viper Team Oreca, which achieved a 1-2-3 placing in the GTS class. For these sportscars Ricardo supplied the rear differential and some of the key internal parts of the transmission.

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