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  Audi R8
 

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Country of origin:Germany
Produced from:2000 - 2002
Numbers built:17
Predecessor:Audi R8R
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:June 19, 2017
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Click here to download printer friendly versionIn 1999, Audi turned to sports car racing after many successful years in rallying and touring cars. During the debut year, the German manufacturer explored the two avenues in the regulations to outright victory with the closed cockpit R8C that complied with the GTP regulations and the open R8R that competed in LMP900. While both cars were powered by a similar twin-turbo V8, the R8C was developed and built in England and the R8R was designed in-house and built by Italian specialists Dallara. Audi only raced the R8C at Le Mans and ultimately chose to go for the open route for 2000 as it would produce a more versatile racer.

Audi, however, did not return with a development of the R8R but instead incorporated all the lessons learned in the brand-new R8. Once again, the car was designed in-house by Wolfgang Appel and Michael Pfadenhauer. Like most contemporary sports prototypes, it was built around a carbon-fibre composite monocoque with double wishbones and push-rod actuated springs and dampers on all four corners. The most obvious difference was the use of a single roll-over hoop instead of the full-width roll-bar used on the R8R. Like before, the major chassis components were constructed for Audi by specialists Dallara.

What was carried over from the R8R and R8C was the twin-turbo V8. Constructed from lightweight aluminium-alloy, the compact engine displaced just under 3.6 litres and was equipped with a pair of Garrett turbochargers. Equipped with the mandatory restrictors, the V8 produced around 600 bhp. The engine was mated to a Ricardo-sourced six-speed sequential gearbox, which was operated by paddles behind the steering wheel. The rear-end of the R8 was designed to be rapidly swapped out. At Le Mans, the team managed to complete a change of the rear-end in a startling four minutes.

One of the main reasons for Audi to go down the open LMP900 route was the fledgling American Le Mans Series (ALMS), which was run mostly on tight tracks but in the very lucrative North American market. The R8 made its debut in the ALMS season opener; the Sebring 12 Hours. Fielded by Audi Sport North America, the brand-new car scored a remarkable one-two debut in this very tough race. For Le Mans, three cars were fielded by Audi Sport Team Joest. The R8s once again dominated, scoring a resounding one-two-three victory. The dominance continued in North America and Audi also ended the year as champions.

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  Article Image gallery (40) Chassis (3) Specifications User Comments (1)