The Audi R8 is a mid-engined sports car released by the German automaker Audi in 2006. Audi announced in 2005 that the name of the successful Audi R8 race car would be used for a new road car in 2007, the Audi R8, based on the Audi Le Mans Quattro concept car, which appeared at the 2003 Geneva Auto Show and 2003 International Motor Show. The R8 was officially launched at the Paris Auto Show on 30 September 2006. There is some confusion with the name which the car shares with the Le Mans winning R8 LMP. Originally, many thought the car would be called the R9 (as there is a gap in numbering left when Audi announced the R8′s successor, the diesel-powered R10).
The Audi R8 will be available in mid-2007 with a 4.2 L V8 making 420 hp,as seen in the Audi RS4. Pricing for the 420 bhp model starts from €104,400 or £77,000. The base price in the US is $109,000.
The R8 has a dry weight of 1560 kg (3439 lb). A 0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) time of 4.6 seconds is possible with a top speed of 301 km/h (187 mph).
The quarter mile time for the R8 is 12.6 seconds and roadhandling on the 300 ft skidpad is 0.98g.
As Audi owns Lamborghini, the R8′s architecture such as layout and chassis is based on that of the Lamborghini Gallardo and the two vehicles share transmissions. The R8 is made distinct by its exterior styling, cabin, engine options, and pricing.
The European Audi R8 will also be the first production vehicle to feature all-LED headlights.
The Audi R8 also features an optional Bang & Olufsen sound system.
For 2009 a second, more powerful engine variant that uses a 520-hp 5.2 L V10, an enlarged version of the Lamborghini Gallardo’s engine and already seen in the Audi S8, is rumoured but not confirmed by Audi. Audi is currently in the process of developing a new turbocharged 5.2 L V10 engine for the future Audi RS6, and there is a possibility that this engine will make its way into the R8, dependent on marketing decisions. Test mules of this vehicle are developing well in excess of 600 bhp with the turbocharged 5.2 L V10. If this were to happen it is almost certain that this would create an R8-S.
The Audi R8 is a Sports-prototype race car introduced in 2000 for Sportscar racing as a redevelopment of their Audi R8R (open top LMP) and Audi R8C (closed top LMGTP) used in 1999. It is considered by some to be the most successful sports cars ever (alongside such greats as the Porsche 956/962) having won the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004, and 2005 (five of the seven years it competed). A streak of six straight Le Mans victories was broken-up only by the Bentley Speed 8 in 2003, when the R8 finished 3rd.
The gasoline-powered Audi R8 race car has been replaced from 2006 onwards by the new Audi R10 Diesel, however, the need to further develop the R10 has meant that the R8 has seen action in a few races leading up to Le Mans.Contents
In 1997, sports car racing and especially the Le Mans 24 Hours was popular among factories like BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Toyota, Nissan Motors and others. At that time, Audi Sport boss Wolfgang Ullrich started to evaluate the options of joining.
With the upcoming American Le Mans Series also providing a stage for the US-market, Audi announced plans in 1998 to compete in 1999, with a car called R8 and powered by a 550 hp V8 turbo. As it was considered the better choice for a whole race due to less weight and wider tires, Audi ordered an open top roadster from Dallara, to be developed and run by Joest Racing.
Yet, during the fall of 1998, after the necessity of GT1 homologation was dropped in favour of LM-GTP prototypes, regarding the speed and success of these closed GT coupés like the Porsche 911 GT1, Mercedes-Benz CLK-GTR, and the Toyota GT-One, Audi also ordered their newly acquired Norfolk based RTN (Racing Technology Norfolk, led by Tony Southgate) to build a closed-cockpit car using the same drivetrain.
The ACO rules for closed-top prototypes allowed cars to run with larger air restrictors, resulting in more power (about 600 hp), which resulted in a higher top speed in combination with the lower drag. To compensate this advantage over the duration of a race, the LMGTPs were limited to smaller tires and smaller fuel tanks.
Following a period of testing, two R8Rs debut at the 1999 12 Hours of Sebring. The BMW V12 LMR won, which was a strong sign towards the race in France. The already tested open-top Audi R8R, entered by Joest Racing was not fast enough to challenge for a win, finishing 3rd.
After further tests and modifications, the Audis returned for Le Mans. The new debuting R8Cs lacked pace and unfortunately suffered mechanical woes. Lap times were 10 seconds down from the leading LMP and LMGTP competitors. Joest’s R8Rs ran steady, yet still was too slow to run for pole position. After a race which saw the spectacular flights of the Mercedes-Benz CLR as well as leading cars of Toyota and BMW crashing out, the Audi R8R took 3rd and 4th behind the surviving #15 BMW and the Japanese-driven Toyota.
Based on the experiences, Audi decided to regroup for 2000, and built a new R8 roadster together with Joest and Dallara. The British-built R8C GTP was retired, but Audi-owned Bentley developed the concept of the R8C closed cockpit LMGTP and entered the Bentley EXP Speed 8 in 2001, eventually leading to success in the future.
After the 1999 Le Mans shame, Mercedes retired from GTs to focus on the return of the DTM touring cars in 2000, as well as on F1. Toyota and BMW also went to F1, with BMW at least continuing to race for two years in the ALMS, where the open roadster of Bill Auberlen also suffered a “back flip” during the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta in 2000, as the closed-cockpit Porsche of Yannick Dalmas had done in 1998. Despite the BMW V12 not receiving further development, the German team Schnitzer Motorsport was almost as effective as Joest. Still the BMW V12 LMR could not match the Audi R8′s might in the championship and lost almost every race against it. BMW returned to race BMW M3 touring car since, dominating in the ALMS and in WTCC as well as at the 24 Hours Nürburgring.
This left only Porsche as a major possible challenger for 2000 — which never showed up, though. Rumors at that time, which were confirmed since, said that Ferdinand Piech himself made them stay away, using his influence as a co-owner of Porsche as well as his manager positions at Volkswagen, which would develop the upcoming SUV VW Touareg in cooperation with the Porsche Cayenne. The Porsche V10 racer was turned into the Porsche Carrera GT instead.
The Audi R8 is a sports-racing car prepared for sports car racing in the LMP900 class at Le Mans and in the American Le Mans Series. The car was developed by Audi Motorsport and Joest Racing and first debuted in 2000, winning the 12 Hours of Sebring.
The R8 has won Le Mans five times (2000, 2001, 2002, 2004 and 2005) and the overall season championship in the American Le Mans Series six times in a row (from 2000 to 2005).
The Audi R8 was the only car until today to have beaten the 1999 Toyota GT-One’s Le Mans record qualifying lap in 1999 (3:29:930) with a time of 3:29:905 in 2002. This proved the R8 to be the fastest LMP category car around the legendary circuit.
The R8 won a hat trick at Le Mans (three wins in a row) campaigned by Audi Sport Infineon Team Joest and driven by Tom Kristensen, Emanuele Pirro and Frank Biela during the 2000-2002 seasons. First time out in 2000, the team won a 1-2-3 finish, which was just a small preview of what this all-new Audi was capable of. Since then, the Audi R8 has won numerous championships and races, including wins at Le Mans in 2004 and 2005.
The R8 is powered by a 3.6 L twin-turbocharged and intercooled Audi FSI V8. FSI stands for Fuel-Stratified Injection, which is a variation on the concept of gasoline direct injection developed by VW which maximizes both power and fuel economy at the same time. FSI technology can be found in products available to the normal public, across all brands in the Volkswagen Group.
The power supplied by the R8, officially limited to about 610 hp (about 450 kW) in 2000, 2001 and 2002, 550 hp in 2003 and 2004 and 520 hp in 2005, is sent to the rear wheels via a Ricardo six-speed sequential transmission with an electro–pneumatic gear change. That means it has a computer-controlled clutch that allows the driver to make gear changes without touching the clutch pedal. These gear changes can be done by the computer far quicker than even the fastest human being with a conventional manual transmission.
However, while the R8′s speed was quite dominant during the races, speed is but a minor factor in winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The main key is reliability. The R8 was a reliable car, yes; but not far more so than its competitors. The real reason for the R8′s dominance at La Sarthe was its ingenious design.
The Audi R8′s structure was designed from the very beginning to expedite parts changes during the race. The car has a chassis that has been likened to a Lego model — anything on the car can be changed and changed quickly. During its campaign, the Joest pit crew was able to change the entire rear transaxle of a damaged R8 — a process which usually takes between one and three hours — in four and a half minutes, a feat that was unprecedented in its efficiency and speed. The Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO), organizers of the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the American Le Mans Series acted quickly to void this advantage by mandating the gearbox casing be the same item through the duration of the race, with only the internals being allowed to be changed. However, the R8 still had quicker access to the gearbox internals than any other car due to its quick-change construction.
The R8′s structure and body are both composed of carbon fiber, a lightweight polymer material which is extremely lightweight and strong; however it is very expensive and time-consuming to mould.
The car had a top speed of over 205 mph (330 km/h) and reached 60 mph in just 3.3 seconds. Seemingly, the R8 actually hit 337 km/h in 2000 at Le Mans.
Audi Sport’s programme saw tragedy in 2001 when on April 25, popular driver Michele Alboreto died in an accident after suffering a high-speed tire failure during an RB test session at the Lausitzring in eastern Germany.
It should be noted, however, that the Bentley Speed 8, which ran at Le Mans from 2001 to 2003, winning in 2003, utilised a heavily modified 4.0 L version of the turbocharged V8 engine from the Audi R8. The Bentley racing effort was campaigned by Team Bentley (Apex Motorsport) with assistance from longtime R8 competitor Joest Racing and Audi Sport UK. Tom Kristensen, who won the previous three 24 Hours of Le Mans races in an R8, was assigned to drive the Bentley Speed 8, and helped guide the team to victory. (Kristensen went on to win the 2004 and 2005 races in an Audi R8). Some even say that the works Audi teams sandbagged the race in order to hand victory to the Volkswagen/Audi Group’s newest addition, Bentley Motors. There is also some similarity between the Bentley Speed 8 and the Audi R8′s successor, the R10. In some places the Bentley is referred to as being the R9.
Very few racing cars have a racing pedigree comparable to the R8. However, as amazing as the R8 was, during the 2005 season, it was evident that its time at the front of the pack was drawing to a close. Audi had made the development of the R10 diesel public, and cars from other manufacturers and teams started to catch up in terms of on-the-track speed. The ACO still felt that the R8 needed to be kept in check, therefore they reduced the restrictor size on the R8′s engine and stipulated the car shall carry ballast in an attempt to make the races more competitive. At the 2005 Le Mans, the Audis failed to qualify on pole position; the fastest R8 started the race in third position. However, as a hallmark to the R8′s legendary reliability, the car was able to outlast all other competitors to take its fifth checkered flag at the venerable Circuit de la Sarthe and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. This victory was also notable since it was Tom Kristensen’s 6th straight 24 Hours of Le Mans victory, and a record 7th overall, beating legendary driver Jacky Ickx’s previous record of 6 career 24 Hours of Le Mans victories.
Throughout its six year history, the R8 has proven to be one of the most dominant cars in history. Indeed, of all the races it had entered over a seven year period, the R8 lost a mere eighteen races total. Here is a list of some of the achievements of the R8.
24 Hours of Le Mans winner – 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006
American Le Mans Series champion: 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006†
European Le Mans Series champion: 2001
Le Mans Series champion: 2004
2006: the R10 Diesel
Main article: Audi R10
Allan McNish drives the Audi R8 to a win at its final race at Lime Rock Park on July 1, 2006.
In response to the new level of competition, development of the successor, known as the Audi R10, has been completed. The V12-Turbodiesel won at its race debut at the 2006 12 Hours of Sebring with both cars starting on the front row. Unfortunately the pole sitting R10 had to start from the pit lane due to the need to rectify heat exchanger issues. Peugeot is in the process of developing a Diesel powered rival in 2007, the Peugeot 908.
Emanuele Pirro, Frank Biela and Marco Werner made history by becoming the first drivers to win the Le Mans 24-hour race in a diesel-powered car. The Audi R10 Diesel completed a record 380 laps of the La Sarthe circuit, with Pirro at the wheel for the finish. French trio Sebastien Loeb, Eric Helary and Franck Montagny took second in the Pescarolo Judd No 17, four laps adrift. Scotsman Allan McNish was third in the other Audi, which came in 13 laps down after suffering mechanical problems.
The venerable R8 continued to campaign the American Le Mans Series through the first half of the 2006 season, and made its final US appearance on July 1, 2006 at Lime Rock Park, Connecticut, piloted by McNish and Capello. The R8 ended its career in style by winning the race, the 50th American Le Mans Series win for the Audi R8. The R10s participated in the rest of the ALMS season, beginning with the race at Miller Motorsports Park, Utah.