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  Audi R8R      

  Article Image gallery (19) Chassis (2) Specifications  
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Country of origin:Germany
Produced in:1999
Numbers built:8 (Including unraced prototypes)
Successor:Audi R8
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:June 13, 2014
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Click here to download printer friendly versionWith no prior prototype racing experience, Audi launched a remarkably ambitious program late in 1998 with a victory in the 24 Hours of Le Mans as the ultimate objective. Hedging their bets, they developed two distinctly different prototype racers, with the engine the only major component shared by the two; the open R8R and the closed cockpit R8C. The former was developed in-house with the help of long-time Porsche privateers Team Joest, while the latter was designed and constructed in Great Britain under the supervision of Tony Southgate. At the 1998 launch, Audi only showed an R8R, ahead of extensive winter testing and its competition debut at Sebring.

While the R8R was designed in-house, Audi outsourced the production of some of the key components to specialist companies. Included was the carbon-fibre monocoque chassis, which was sourced from Italian experts Dallara. Bolted directly to the tub was a turbocharged V8 with a displacement of just under 3.6 litre. Breathing through mandatory restrictors, the all-aluminium engine produced well over 600 bhp. It was mated to a Ricardo-built six-speed sequential gearbox that was operated by paddles behind the steering wheel. Suspension followed conventional lines with double wishbones and push-rod actuated spring/damper units on all four corners. Carbon ceramic discs provided the stopping power.

Audi's road car designers clearly had a hand in the lines of the R8R shown late in 1998. The new Audi racer was also extensively tested in this guise but by the time of the Sebring 12 Hours, an all-new body was fitted. Although it sported much sharper lines, some road car cues were retained like the grille with the four-ring badge. Run in conjunction with Team Joest, two cars were entered for a hugely talented driver line-up that included former F1 racers Michele Alboreto and Stefan Johansson as well as Audi regulars Frank Biela and Emanuele Pirro. Although the two R8Rs were not quite on the pace yet, the extensive testing had made for bullet-proof reliability. This allowed the two Audis to move up to third and fifth in the race; an impressive result for what was Audi's first ever sports car race.

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  Article Image gallery (19) Chassis (2) Specifications