2015 audi r8 lms – DOC620119
After first entering the GT3 fray with the R8 LMS in 2009 and following it up with the slightly improved R8 LMS Plus a few years later, Audi is recommitting to its GT3 customer-racing program with the all-new 2016 R8 LMS. Based on the redesigned 2016 R8 road car, this thing looks positively ferocious.
Though GT3 cars are intended to be factory-supported customer race cars, and are for the most part, the class has become the stage for a global proxy battle between an unprecedented number of major manufacturers. BMW, Ferrari, Bentley, Aston Martin, Mercedes-AMG, Lexus, Porsche, Lamborghini, Nissan and McLaren are all major players, and most either recently introduced new GT3 cars or have new ones on the way.
Despite all that competition, the first-generation R8 LMS excelled in the class, collecting 26 GT3 Championship wins and 23 titles in other international classes. It won seven 24-hour races, including two wins in the torturous Nürburgring 24. With 130 cars sold to customer teams worldwide, it’s arguably the most successful and popular GT3 car in the world. So, the new one has a lot to live up to.
And we won’t have to wait long to see if it will. Entries during the 2015 season have already been confirmed for the Nürburgring 24 in May and the 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps in July, with more likely to come. We can also expect to see it racing on our shores, possibly in the Pirelli World Challenge series and in the Tudor United SportsCar Championship after the GTD class fully embraces the FIA’s global GT3 specifications in 2016.
Updated 09/09/2015: The new Audi R8 LMS can now be ordered by customers, and the first deliveries will be made by the end of the year. Audi’s GT3 sports car is priced at 359,000 euros (plus VAT) – $400,000 at the current exchange rates, with a starter and parts package increasing the total price up to 398,000 euros (plus VAT) – $444,000 at the current exchange rates.
Audi R8 LMS
I really like the evolutionary looks of the 2016 R8, but it transforms into an altogether more vicious machine when it puts on its war paint. The carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic bodywork contributes to a 55-pound reduction in weight for a total of 2,700 pounds. Similar to DTM cars, the wheel wells are now open aft of the wheels, helping to improve airflow. Airflow to the radiator has also improved thanks to a new nose with two pontoon-like protrusions and downforce-assisting upswept front canards on either side.
For the first time, the R8 LMS also has a fully lined underfloor that smoothly channels air out the back through a huge rear diffuser. This simultaneously gives the car more downforce and less drag, which has allowed engineers to reduce the size of the rear wing.
Overall, it has the beautiful brutality that only race cars seem to have. We can’t wait to watch it get splattered with unfortunate insects and caked in brake dust and tire clag at endurance races around the world this season.
This being a customer car, and Audi wanting to keep their customers in a state in which they can buy more Audis, driver safety has not been ignored. The R8 LMS now uses the same PS 1 Audi Protection Seat from the R18 e-tron quattro LMP1 car. It’s bolted directly to the chassis, and the steering wheel and pedal box are both adjustable to accommodate drivers of different heights during endurance races. Audi also added a rescue opening in the roof, similar to those used on DTM cars, which allows the driver’s helmet to be removed, lessening the risk of spinal column injury.
The steel roll cage fixed to the aluminum space frame chassis is both lighter and stronger than the old car’s cage, and has the added benefit of helping to improve torsional rigidity by 39 percent. Lest you think driver comfort has been ignored, Audi has also improved fresh air circulation in the cockpit. At 124 mph, drivers will be treated to a fresh breeze of 250 liters of air per second.
The same 5.2-liter V-10 that’s at the heart of the R8 road car is used in the LMS. Remaining largely unchanged, it produces 585 horsepower and is easily serviceable — a crucial factor for privateer teams on a budget. Audi recommends rebuild intervals of about 12,500 miles. In addition to the engine, Audi says the LMS shares as many parts as possible with the road car to keep costs low and ease maintenance. The last LMS was built on the same assembly line as the road-going R8, and the same is probably also true for the new one.
Because the FIA doesn’t allow all-wheel drive in the GT3 class, the LMS will again transfer power exclusively to the rear wheels through a new six-speed electro-hydraulic gearbox with paddle shifters. New software manages engine electronics, traction control and gearshifts, while a new processor helps speed everything up. Interestingly, what Audi calls a “power box” replaces the traditional fuse box, and sounds like something that could eventually trickle down to Audi’s road cars.
Audi’s GT3 sports car is priced at 359,000 euros (plus VAT) – $400,000 at the current exchange rates, with a starter and parts package increasing the total price up to 398,000 euros (plus VAT) – $444,000 at the current exchange rates.
Competition is definitely something the R8 LMS will have plenty of. First up, and also unveiled at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show, is the Mercedes-AMG GT3. Based on the Mercedes -AMG GT road car, it’s a smaller, more tight-fisted replacement for the SLS GT3, which has also found plenty of success in GT3 racing. But instead of the road-going GT’s twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8, the GT3 variant will use the big-displacement 6.3-liter atmospheric V-8 from the out-going SLS.
Mercedes hasn’t divulged a power figure, but we’re predicting the lighter AMG GT3 to produce around 500 horsepower after class regulations are factored in. Like the R8 LMS, it’s significantly wider than its street-legal counterpart and boasts some comprehensively overhauled bodywork. In fact, only the headlights, three-pointed star emblem and the overall hood shape are carried over from the road car. Going on past history, this could be the GT3 car to beat.
Gallery Mercedes-AMG GT3
BMW M6 GT3
BMW M6 GT3
The significantly larger M6 seems like an odd starting point for BMW’s new GT3 racer, but here we are. Its replaces the much smaller Z4 GT3, which used a worked-over version the old M3’s 4.0-liter V-8 and also found its share of GT3 glory.
Like the M6 road car, the M6 GT3 uses the same twin-turbo 4.4-liter V8, though its 560 horsepower will likely have to be reined in to conform to class regulations. BMW has yet to release all of the official information on the M6 GT3, but it’s safe to say that, like its competition, it will sport radically altered bodywork, with wider fenders and a suitably massive rear wing.
Gallery BMW M6 GT3
Lexus RC F GT3
Lexus RC F GT3 Concept
Lexus is the newcomer to the class. We’ve only seen a concept version of the RC F GT3 racer, but Lexus sounds very serious about getting it on the track. Back when it was introduced at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show, Lexus said it would begin delivering cars in 2015. To our knowledge, deliveries haven’t begun, but it’s early yet.
The RC F GT3 looks great both in the carbon fiber and on paper. In fact, we would love to see a bit of this aggression in the relatively benign RC F road car. The GT3 uses a race-tuned version of the 5.0-liter V-8 producing over 540 horsepower, and has all the flared fenders, splitters and wings you would expect to find on a GT3 racer.
Gallery Lexus RC F GT3 Concept
Audi R8 LMS
Normally when a successful race series hits a critical mass of manufacturers, that’s exactly when some of those manufacturers begin to get cold feet and find somewhere else to go racing. Knock on wood, but this doesn’t seem to be happening with GT3. A big part of this success is that, unlike most racing programs, GT3 car sales actually money for manufacturers. And when money is being made, it makes the risk of losing face on the track a bit easier to swallow.
Audi was one of the first companies to recognize the potential of the reconfigured GT3 rules a few years ago, which allowed it to get a head start on its competition. Auto Union’s prewar success notwithstanding, Audi made itself known to the motorsports world in Group B rallying, but endurance racing is its current competitive outlet. The company certainly isn’t resting on its laurels with the new R8 LMS, and we wouldn’t expect anything less.
- 2016 R8 looks fantastic in war paint
- Improved safety
- Lighter and more powerful
- It’s likely to be a bit pricey
- Not street-legal
- Requires a team of engineers to operate
Audi is again running in front. As one of the first automobile manufacturers to do so at the beginning of the 2015 season, the brand with the four rings is presenting a race car that already meets the requirements of the new GT3 regulations to be introduced in 2016. The new Audi R8 LMS is lighter and safer than ever before. It features even more race car technology, clearly improved aerodynamics and, as a result, provides customers with an efficient concept.
Audi R8 LMS
Back in spring of 2014, Audi began testing the new R8 LMS that is following in big footsteps. The track record of the first generation of the Audi R8 LMS reflects 26 GT3 Championship wins between 2009 and 2014, plus 23 titles in other classifications and seven overall victories in 24-hour races. In 2015, customers around the world are again relying on the success model from Neckarsulm of which the company has sold more than 130 cars worldwide since 2009.
The first racing commitments of the new R8 LMS such as the 24-hour races at the Nürburgring (May 16/17) and at Spa (July 25/26) have already been scheduled. quattro GmbH that develops and assembles the race cars will begin to take customer orders in the second half of the year and is planning to deliver the first models of the second generation by the end of 2015.
At the same time, on presenting the successor model, Audi is preparing for the promising future of GT3 racing and plays a pioneering role in the process. The new Audi R8 LMS clearly surpasses the safety requirements of the regulations to be introduced in 2016. Thanks to a modified structure of the front end and a CFRP crash element at the rear that is being used for the first time the GT3 race car meets the crash test requirements that apply to the much lighter Le Mans prototypes (LMP) such as the Audi R18 e-tron quattro. The Audi Protection Seat PS 1 that will also be used in the R8 LMS in the future has been setting seating technology standards in the LMP class for years. It is connected to the chassis for increased stiffness. A quickly adjustable foot lever system and a height and length adjustable safety steering column allow versatile adjustment to the various drivers. A rescue opening in the roof as used in DTM race touring cars is now being introduced in a GT3 race car for the first time as well. After an accident, it allows the driver’s helmet to be lifted in a way that avoids straining the spinal column.
Audi systematically leverages its lightweight design expertise in the new R8 LMS. Despite the additional weight resulting from the above innovations the base weight of the race car has been reduced from 1,250 to 1,225 kilograms. The intelligent material mix of aluminium in the Audi Space Frame (ASF), a structural CFRP component and the steel roll cage alone make the chassis about 30 kilograms lighter – now weighing 252 kilograms. At the same time, the torsional stiffness of the stressed frame has increased by 39 percent.
Although the material mix in a race car is more complex, Audi has managed to integrate the manufacturing process for production and race cars even more closely than before. In a new manufacturing facility at the Böllinger Höfe industrial park in Heilbronn, quattro GmbH produces both variants in combination. Although the race car, for example, is fitted with aluminum cast joints and a steel roll cage the racing chassis of the R8 LMS remains integrated in the basic production process up to and including the stages of roof assembly and cathodic dip painting (CDP), which is a form of priming. Following these production steps, the race cars are completed in Heilbronn-Biberach.
Audi uses production parts in the new R8 LMS whenever this makes sense in racing from a technical and economic point of view. For example, the V10 engine with 5.2 litres of displacement and a power output of up to 430 kW (585 hp) leaves the same line as the production unit. It remains nearly unchanged and, with a scheduled rebuild interval of 20,000 kilometres, stets standards in racing. The engineers use modified or completely new assemblies whenever this is required in racing by the regulations or by the clearly higher loads that occur in competitive conditions. The production ASF chassis, for instance, is modified whereas the completely new bodywork is made of CFRP. The suspensions now use wishbones strictly designed for racing for the first time and the six-speed transmission with paddle shifters is a completely new development as well. It is significantly lighter than its predecessor while its efficiency has increased because the previous drop gear system has been eliminated. The new MS 6.4 electronics include engine electronics, traction control and software for the electro-hydraulic gearshift. The powerful processor enables higher processing speeds that result in faster responses. A power box is another new feature. It replaces the traditional fuse box and makes it possible to define individual loads and scenarios.
The new aerodynamic concept of the Audi R8 LMS for the first time includes a fully lined underfloor and a conceptually integrated rear diffusor. As a result, the dimensions of the rear wing can be reduced without a corresponding increase of aerodynamic drag. The wheel wells, which are open rearwards via a larger cross-section, contribute to improved airflow. The airflow rate and cooling area of the radiator at the front have increased by ten percent to handle maximum outside air temperatures. In order to improve the race drivers’ ability to concentrate on their tasks, fresh air circulation in the cockpit has been improved. At a speed of 200 km/h, the airflow rate is 250 litres per second. Audi has achieved these improvements despite the significantly higher constraints imposed on aerodynamics design by the 2016 regulations.