The brand new Audi R8 has only been out for a matter of weeks, but Ingolstadt’s engineers have already turned it into a GT3 racer. The R8 LMS R8 racer not only meets the new GT3 safety standards that are set to be introduced in 2016, but meets the crash test requirements for the much lighter Le Mans prototypes. To achieve this, Audi has modified the car’s front crash structure and used carbon fiber–reinforced polymer (CFRP) for the rear structure.
A big part of the LMS’ safety package is the Audi Protection Seat PS 1, which is connected directly to the chassis for greater stiffness and can be easily accessed through the roof by medics if the car is involved in an accident – a system adapted from DTM touring cars.
Despite the weight that comes with this extra safety equipment, the new R8 LMS is 25 kg (55 lb) lighter than the outgoing car. This is thanks to the use of aluminum in the car’s spaceframe and the use of CFRP for structural reinforcement, which also contributes to a 39 percent increase in structural rigidity.
Powering the R8 LMS is a lightly modified version of the road-going R8’s 5.2-liter V10, which produces 430 kW (585 hp). It is built on the same assembly line as the standard car’s motor, and Audi claims that its scheduled rebuild intervals of 20,000 km (12,427 mi) sets the standards in racing. As a part of the new R8 LMS package, Audi has fitted the car with wishbones specifically designed for racing, while the six-speed transmission has been developed to be significantly lighter than the unit it replaces.
Audi has also replaced the old car’s electronics system with a new MS 6.4 system that takes care of engine management, traction control and gearshift mapping. The system’s processor enables faster responses than that of the outgoing car, while the power box (which replaces a traditional fuse box) is able to define individual loads and scenarios.
Alongside the motor and electronic upgrades, the new LMS is the first R8 to be fitted with a fully lined undertray and integrated rear diffuser – an advance that allows the rear wing to work more effectively. To facilitate more effective cooling in hot conditions, the LMS’ airflow rate and radiator cooling area have increased by 10 percent, and fresh air circulation in the cockpit has been improved over the outgoing car.
The new R8 LMS will race in the 24-hour races at the Nürburgring (May 16/17) and at Spa (July 25/26), while quattro GmbH, which develops and assembles the race cars, will begin to take customer orders in the second half of the year. The first models of the second generation are set to be delivered by the end of 2015.