Anatomy of a winner
Audi Sport’s 24 Hours of Nürburgring winner – a true veteran.
It wouldn’t be strictly accurate to car it a second-hand car, but the R8 LMS that claimed victory at the Nürburgring in June had already seen plenty of action for two years – and still didn’t miss a beat.
25 July, 2019
When #4 R8 LMS crossed the finish line at this year's 24 hours of Nürburgring it had already served two years in top level motorsport
More than a dozen manufacturers produce GT3 cars for customer racing around the world, but few have enjoyed the tremendous success of the Audi R8 LMS. The speed, handling and incredible endurance of this race car has seen it clinch titles in every major GT series around the world and it continues to feature at the ‘pointy end’ of race meetings whenever it competes.
But where many race cars are considered ‘fragile’ and difficult to set up, the R8 LMS also distinguishes itself with its resilience and reliability, adding tremendously to its success and popularity with race teams.
This year’s winner of the 24 Hours of Nürburgring is the perfect illustration. When the team of Pierre Kaffer, Frank Stippler, Dries Vanthoor and Frédéric Vervisch drove #4 R8 LMS across the finish line it had already provided hard service for two years at the very top level of motorsport.
Indeed almost exactly two years before its victory at the Nürburgring, the Audi R8 LMS with chassis number AS4SAFGT201700089 started its maiden race in round three of the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup.
To date, this particular car has done three tests and contested 12 races with four different teams, including the 24 Hours of Spa twice, the 24 Hours of Nürburgring twice and the California 8 Hours at Laguna Seca twice. By the time the last checkered flag fell, this Audi R8 LMS had covered a total distance of 29,836 kilometres at qualifying and racing speed within the space of two years.
“This statistic is not only a nice success for Audi Sport customer racing, but also sends a message to our customers,” says Chris Reinke, Head of Audi Sport customer racing.
“In our strategic commitments, we definitely rely on ‘used cars’ as well and demonstrate the success that can be achieved with them. However, the greatest benefit to our worldwide customers is the durability of our engineering design.”
The production-based GT3 race car shares 50 percent of its components with the production model. The ASF multi-material chassis of aluminium and CFRP is produced at the same manufacturing facility as the production model, at Böllinger Höfe of Audi’s Neckarsulm site, the car tipping the scales at just 1235 kilograms, but weighing in at 1310 kilograms for the Nürburgring 24 Hours to meet race regulations.
By the time the last checkered flag fell, this Audi R8 LMS had covered a total distance of 29,836 race
The V10 engine is almost completely production-based, with service intervals of 10,000 kilometres and rebuild intervals of 20,000 kilometres
The V10 engine is almost completely production-based, with service intervals of 10,000 kilometres and rebuild intervals of 20,000 kilometres. For the 24 Hours of Nürburgring, regulations mean that the engine which produces 462kW of power must be detuned to 363kW, but otherwise it is untouched. The engine in the Nürburgring winner had already run for 5000 kilometres before the race.
Audi also left the suspension largely untouched, making only minor modifications to adapt the race car to the Nordschleife. The prescribed ground clearance of 70 millimetres meant that the car sat about one centimetre higher than on other race tracks and also used a rear wing 100 millimetres slimmer than usual, reducing downforce – again in keeping with race regulations.
So, what will happen to the race car of the winners now? Audi Sport will sell the original winning car to an interested partner, just as the brand did after the victory two years ago.
Slight signs of wear – well yes, but what a pedigree.
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