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Arguably the world’s toughest endurance race, the 2012 Nürburgring 24 Hours ended with the Audi Sport Team Phoenix R8 LMS ultra capturing the victory after 155 grueling laps on the ‘Green Hell’.
It’s the first victory for the German automaker at the famous Nürburgring 24 race with drivers Marc Basseng, Christopher Haase, Frank Stippler, and Markus Winkelhock at the wheel. Second place also went to Audi with Chris Mamerow, Christian Abt, Michael Ammermüller, and Armin Hahne finishing behind their fellow Audi teammates while representing Mamerow racing.
Third place went to the Hankook-Team Heico Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 driven by Christian Frankenhout, Andreas Simonsen, Pierre Kaffer, and Lance David Arnold who barely edged out the Wochenspiegel-Porsche 911 GT3 R with Marc Lieb, Romain Dumas, Lucas Luhr, and Richard Lietz behind the wheel.
As expected, the race was not without any drama with less than one-third of the 31 GT3-spec race cars having trouble-free races. Team Schubert’s BMW Z4 GT3 held the pole and the race early on but lost six laps from a driveshaft failure. Its sister car experienced gearbox issues after leading, leaving the race down to fellow German automakers Audi and Mercedes-Benz to face off.
Audi’s top entry, the number-2 Phoenix car, crashed in the early morning after rain fell in the 15th hour. The ROWE Racing Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 took over the lead before it found trouble with a suspension failure that ultimately took it out of the race with six hours to go.
This is the fourth Nürburgring 24 Hour attempt for the Audi R8 LMS race car and marks a historic 1-2 sweep along with Audi’s first win. As for Team Phoenix, it’s enjoying its second win after capturing the title in 2003 with an Opel Astra V8 Coupe.
“It was a great weekend for us, for the whole team,” Winkelhock said. “We had a perfect car that had no problems. It’s just amazing to stand on the podium. It was a really tough race and is really competitive.”
The very first Audi R8 LMS race car to compete in America has been announced. APR Motorsport will be the first team to campaign the special Audi race car during the 50th Anniversary of the Rolex 24 at Daytona in January.
APR Motorsports, a division of the famed Audi tuning shop, is becoming known for its “firsts”, entering the new B8 designation Audi S4 in the GRAND-AM Continental Tire Challenge last seasons.
APR Motorsports and Audi go way back. Stephen Hoods, the President and CEO of APR, used to be an aspiring racing driver and is a long time Audi enthusiast who competed in the Motorola Cup, or what used to be the GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge.
While this will be the first Audi R8 LMS built for the Rolex Series, earlier examples of the race car have already made appearances in Europe, Asia, Australia, and South America, winning more than a 100 victories along the way. No doubt, expectations for APR in the upcoming season will be high.
GALLERY: APR Motorsport Audi R8 LMS
It’s hard to believe Audi was able to improve their highly successful R8 LMS GT3 race car, but they’ve just announced that the R8 LMS ultra will be launched in 2012, with deliveries starting in March. Current R8 LMS customers have won a combined 115 races and 12 national and international titles in just three years.
So where and how did Audi improve the R8 LMS for their ultra model? They started with new doors made of carbon fiber reinforced plastic and high-energy absorbing crash foams. There is also a new PS1 safety seat developed by Audi offering plenty of extra protection. The transmission was updated to provide additional longevity during endurance races.
To enhance an already impressive powerplant, Audi maximized the 5.2L V10 to 570-hp thanks to a new exhaust system with race-spec catalytic converters. The engine is still based on the production motor produced at Audi’s plant and customers have reported easily hitting over 12,000-miles on their motors with no issues.
For cooling enhancements, Audi gave the car a larger engine oil cooler, transmission fluid cooler, and an oil cooler for the steering hydraulics was relocated to the vehicle’s mid-section from the front of the previous car.
Front wheel widths have been upsized to 12-inch sizes instead of 11-inches (for a wider track) and as of next season Michelin will be offering wider tires to allow for more consistent lap times. Furthermore, aerodynamic improvements were made throughout the LMS ultra including a wider front hood, and a new front plate with optimized diffusion is under the front end.
The Audi R8 LMS ultra comes in at a hefty $446,890 plus VAT based on today’s conversion rates.
GALLERY: Audi R8 LMS Ultra
After recently achieving its 100th victory in international motorsports, the Audi R8 will finally look to add to that tally on American soil. Audi has announced that for the 2012 season the R8 LMS race car will be homologated to meet racing standards for the Grand Am Endurance Series, with the R8 set to make its race debut at the 50th running of the 24 Hours of Daytona on January 28th.
Audi won’t be running an official factory team but will instead offer the new cars up to customer teams. Those teams will, however, receive significant support with Audi Sport sending a crew to consult for the entire 2012 season.
To meet Grand Am regulations the R8 LMS will get a thicker roll cage, a new front splitter, rear diffuser and a custom rear spoiler set to Grand Am specifications. Engine output will also be limited (in the range of 450-hp to 470-hp), with changes to the fuel tank as well. Drivers used to competing in Europe are certain to have their hands full with the new car, as the car’s Euro-spec traction control isn’t permitted in Grand-Am.
“We’re convinced that we’re making a very attractive offer to our customers in the USA that will meet with great response,” says Romolo Liebchen, Head of customer racing at quattro GmbH. “The anniversary event of the Daytona 24 Hours is a perfect occasion for the debut of the U.S. version of the new Audi R8 LMS.”
In addition to the Grand Am series, Audi has also announced it is considering the R8 for use in another U.S. endurance series (the American Le Mans Series). Look for that to happen, but with a factory backed team.
Happening right now out in Cologne, Germany is Gamescom, the world’s largest trade fair and event for video games and entertainment. And with all the passionate automotive enthusiasts in Germany, it’s no surprise that Sony wanted to make a statement in their booth by teaming up with Audi to show off a whole new way to play Gran Turismo 5. Custom built by quattro GmbH in Neckarsulm, the PlayStation Racing Simulator that’s currently setup at the booth is a full-on carbon-black Audi R8 LMS imitation race car.
The cockpit features the same bucket seat that one would find in the GT3 car, while they’ve added an additional one for a passenger to spectate. The roll cage has been simplified to make it easier to get in and out of the simulator, but players get to hold onto an authentic race steering wheel that’s been hooked up to the PlayStation 3 and enjoys full Dolby Surround Sound as they power their way through twists and turns.
What puts it altogether though are the pneumatic cylinders located where the race car’s suspension would be. This allows the virtual racer to really feel the physics of driving while in the cockpit of the simulator. That means they feel every bit of the centrifugal forces while cornering, braking and accelerating. According to reports, it took Audi and Sony six weeks to assemble the entire unit, far longer than it takes to build a real car.
Audi beat out BMW and Mercedes-Benz at the 24 Hours of Spa in Belgium, running the legendary Spa-Francorchamps course in an R8 LMS.
The V10-engined R8 beat out 57 teams in the GT3 category, leading 22 out of the 24 hours. Audi Sport Team WRT took the lead as well as 4th place in cars #33 and #32, respectively. Its drivers consisted of two DTM champions Mattias Ekström and Timo Scheider, as well as endurance racing veteran Greg Franchi.
By midnight, the top three cars were all Audis. But an hour later, the #99 R8 fielded by Marc Basseng, Christopher Haase and Frank Stippler slid off from a wet patch and retired. Its #98 teammate lost second gear in an accident and spent an hour getting a new transmission, but managed to claw its way back up from 36th to 14th—and with Mike Rockenfeller behind the wheel, it even managed the fastest race lap at 2m 20.286s.
The #32 car driven by Stéphane Ortelli made a spectacular comeback: after qualifying down in 41st, she drove to 2nd place within the first 90 minutes. After a penalty and a suspension swap sent it back to 42nd place, but skilled driving allowed it to finish fourth.
“This is without doubt the most important victory for the Audi R8 LMS and our still relatively young customer racing program,” said Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, the man in charge of Audi’s motorsport program. “After just a few hours we only had one iron still in the fire – but we won with this car. This shows our strong nerves and team spirit because everybody helped to take the win with the only remaining car.”
Formula 1 pilot Heikki Kovalainen crashed his Audi R8 LMS race car at the Race of Champions event over the weekend – how embarrassing. To make it worse, his girlfriend was riding shotgun.
The accident was reportedly the result of a suspension failure – which is what we hope they’d say about us if we were one of the world’s best drivers, piloting an awesome race car with our girlfriend in the passenger seat.
Neither Kovalainen nor his girlfriend were injured, although the crash is pretty cool to watch.
See the video after the jump:
American-owned, UK-based United Autosports will contest the prestigious Spa 24 Hour race later this month (July 31-August 1) with an all-star lineup of drivers including former Grand Prix pilots Mark Blundell and Stefan Johansson along with Indy 500 winner Eddie Cheever.
In preparation for the race, United Autosports will be testing its fleet of Audi R8 LMS racecars at the world famous Spa-Francorchamps circuit (Belgium) on Wednesday (July 7). Just three days earlier the UA Audi R8s were at another of Europe’s most eye-catching circuits for the latest round of the FIA GT3 Championship, the Paul Ricard high speed track near Marseille, France and its blue, black and red painted run-off areas (which make for some pretty amazing photographs, like the one above).
Powered by a 5.2-liter V10 engine (series limited to approximately 500-hp), the Audi R8 LMS is rear-wheel-drive and is equipped with a sophisticated traction control system, sequential 6-speed gearbox, carbon fiber composite/aluminum bodywork, and Michelin racing slicks. Developed by Audi Sport with cooperation from quattro GmbH, the R8 LMS won the FIA GT3 European Championship, ADAC-GT Masters and Belgian GT Championship plus Nürburgring 24 Hours and Spa 24 Hours class victories in its debut season last year, scoring a total 23 victories.
It should be interesting to see if the United Autosports team can make it back-to-back Spa 24 Hours class victories for Audi or if the balance of power within GT3 has shifted in favor of the Chevrolet Corvettes, Porsches, BMWs, Lamborghinis or Ferraris.
[Source: United Autosports]
If you’re planning on buying an Audi R8 and wondering about factory delivery options in Germany, the Audi R8 LMS Experience can offer you a lot more than a factory tour, a cup of coffee and a road map.
As part of the Audi Driving Experience now available to U.S. customers, you can access the full racing experience through one of five different programs that include driving instruction in your own R8 as well as seat time in an R8 LMS racecar and instruction from Audi’s Le Mans winning race driver lineup. Want to see how much taller (and slower) you are compared to Allan McNish? Here’s your chance, but you’ll need a passport.
First stop is the individual training, with the only requirement being some prior race track experience. The training takes place at Groß Dölln in Germany is the spot where you’ll first discover the wonders of the Audi R8 5.2 FSI quattro and the Audi R8 LMS pictured above.
If you already have a racing license, you can also experience the Audi R8 LMS in an exclusive training course with only four participants, each with their own Audi R8 5.2 FSI quattro, and two instructors to prepare you for the Audi R8 LMS experience on the Eurospeedway Lausitz. Dies ist gut!
If you don’t have a race license yet but would like to acquire one, there’s also the option to qualify for a pro license. Again using the R8 LMS, German participants who pass the training course can apply to the German Motor Sports Federation (DMSB) for a German National A License. Non-German participants need to make arrangements with the national race licensing federation from their own country in order to secure accreditation from Audi R8 training course, but the extra effort is well worthwhile if you’re looking for the most unique way possible to qualify for a pro license.
The Audi Driving Experience doesn’t have to end there either. Packages exist for intensive race driver training in the R8 LMS and there’s even the opportunity to drive an R8 LMS with the Audi works team Joest-Racing, where you’ll take part in a race as a driver in a VLN Endurance Championship event on the Nürburgring Nordschleife. However, to participate in a VLN race at the Ring Audi does require you have adequate knowledge of the Nordschleife and we’re guessing Xbox360 Forza2 laps won’t count.
All in all, Audi has certainly offered buyers of their awesome R8 a wide range of options as a part of their Driving Experience program. Once we’ve saved enough for an R8 of our own (in 2019), we’ll let you know how the program is firsthand.
Audi‘s new R8 supercar has taken the top four grid spots at the 24 Hours of Nürburgring, with the Porsche 911 GT3 R taking fifth through seventh. Porsche’s GT3 R Hybrid placed an impressive ninth, followed by yet another R8 in 10th.
The R8 represents a new challenger to the traditionally dominant 911, however the GT3 R Hybrid is expected to have a significant edge in fuel consumption. Also competing are two Lexus LFAs, which have managed to qualify first and second in their respective classes and 25th and 28th overall.
The race starts tomorrow and runs through Sunday. We’ll be sure to provide updates on the result.
When most people think of professional motorsports, they assume all the drivers are seasoned professionals, being paid huge amounts of money to be there. That may be true if you’re Emanuele Pirro, Patrick Long, or Jorg Bergmeister, but the fact remains that many “professional” racing series’ are made up of equal parts professionals and wealthy amateurs who either ‘”buy a seat” in a car, or campaign their own cars for a season through a racing management team such as TRG, Flying Lizard, GMG, or in this case, Team Joest. The costs of campaigning a competitive car for a season are astronomical, and even a single seat for a race weekend can be more than some people’s annual salary (a seat for a 4-hour stint at the 24 Hours of Daytona costs $40,000). Now, Audi has found a way to get wealthy owners on track with their 6-time LeMans winning Factory Team, Team Joest, in the new Audi R8 LMS, and at the Nürburgring, no less. Hit the jump to find out how: Continue Reading…