Audi Sport have taken the wraps off the replacement to the aging Audi R8 LMS Ultra at the Geneva Motor Show today. In a sign of the increasing importance of customer racing to Audi, the new GT3 machine shared its global debut with the road going version of the car and the eagerly awaited e-Tron electric R8.
The announcement follows the launch of the Mercedes AMG GT3 replacement to the world championship winning SLS AMG GT3 earlier this week.
Audi Sport have been testing the new car since 2014, working on improved aerodynamics and increased efficiency. The car conforms to the next generation of GT3 regulations which take effect form the 2016 season. Audi Sport will give the new R8 LMS its racing debut at the Nurburgring 24 Hours in May before making its Blancpain debut at the Total 24h Spa.
Customer teams can begin placing orders at this time for delivery of the first cars at the end of this year.
The new R8 LMS has borrowed heavily from Audi Sport’s Le Mans programme. The technologically advanced seat for example which is connected directly to the chassis of the car for better rigidity assures driver safety. The rear of the car makes use of a crash structure initially developed for the R18 e-tron Quattro. The car also incorporates a DTM style emergency escape hatch on the roof which allows the driver to be lifted directly from the car with no risk to the spinal column.
Improved materials have saved 25 kilograms from the weight of the vehicle which allows the teams more flexibility in their setup.
Remarkably the 5.2l V10 power plant is built on the same production line on which the engines for the road cars are built. The engine makes it into the race car almost unchanged and will go for 20,000km before needing to be rebuilt. That means that barring component failure, one engine could theoretically do an entire Blancpain Endurance Series season and an entire Avon Tyres British GT Championship season.