Audi Sport has made its track-only evolution of the R8 more comfortable, more aerodynamic, and easier to tune. Built to GT3 specifications, the coupe is a gateway drug into the world of racing for amateur pilots.
"We have consistently implemented the wishes our globally active teams have brought to us," explained Chris Reinke, the head of Audi Sport's customer racing program, in a statement. "The innovations improve the drivability and they allow drivers without a professional background in particular to make better use of the power potential and torque curve for consistent lap times," he added. Surprisingly, customers didn't simply request "make it faster!"
Audi Sport explained it focused on five key areas: aerodynamics, engine characteristics, air conditioning, suspension, and traction control. Its engineers fitted the latest evolution of the R8 LMS GT3 with a bigger rear wing that's inspired by the one seen on the GT2-spec R8. It makes more of the car's downforce than the underbody aerodynamic aids, which makes handling more predictable under heavy braking. Panels attached to the R8's underbody develop downforce as well.
Power still comes from a sonorous, 5.2-liter V10, but the engine gains a revised intake system that increases low-end and mid-range torque. It sends up to 585 horsepower and over 406 pound-feet of torque to the rear wheels via a six-speed sequential transmission linked to shift paddles and a mechanical limited-slip differential. While the LMS GT3 was designed purely for competition, it's not a stripped-down racer. The 12-stage traction control system lets the driver regulate how and when it intervenes, which is one of the new features that will make its debut for 2022.
Four-way adjustable shock absorbers replace the two-way units found on the outgoing model. They give the teams racing the R8 a wider range of configuration options that can be dialed in depending on the track and the pilot. Last but not least, the air conditioning system has been improved to operate like the one in the series-produced car. Audi explained keeping the driver cool improves concentration, which in turn means quicker and steadier lap times.
Audi Sport will begin racing the R8 LMS GT3 before the end of 2021 to conclude the testing process, and the car is scheduled to make its full debut in 2022. Pricing starts at 429,000 euros, which represents about $505,000 at the current conversion rate. Alternatively, the aforementioned improvements can be retrofitted to existing R8 LMS GT3s.
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