Having won everything in sight with its hyper-successful Le Mans prototype racers, Audi Sport has announced that for the first time it will offer a racing sportscar specifically developed for customer use. This will take the form of the powerful 500hp GT3 version of the Audi R8 and the car will be available from autumn 2009 to go up against Porsche and Ferrari machinery (among others) in the GT3 class.
The logistics and factory space required for the AUDI AG customer program will be created over the next few months at its facilities in Ingolstadt, Neckarsulm and Gyr. "The R8 is the first production Audi to bear the name and genes of a successful racing sportscar and is therefore an excellent base from which to build our first big customer sport program," explained Head of Audi Motorsport Dr Wolfgang Ullrich. "Ever since the R8 was unveiled we've been inundated with inquiries about a racing version. We will offer customers a racing sportscar equipped with the best technology and the typical Audi qualities, but it will be easy to handle."
The Audi R8 conforms to the FIA's production-based GT3 motorsport regulations that allow the car to be entered in numerous national and international race series. But because GT3 regulations prohibit four-wheel drive, the racing version of the Audi R8 will be rear-wheel drive.
The power will be transmitted via a newly developed six-speed sequential gearbox. The suspension uses almost exclusively components from the production line, while a comprehensive list of safety equipment guarantees the highest-level of passive safety.
The front splitter, rear diffuser and large rear wing will generate the required downforce for the race track. The car will also be equipped with the required brakes, wheels and tires to be competitive at the highest level of motorsport.This Audi R8 is referred to by its project name "R16" within Audi Sport. And the first prototype recently completed its first laps in the hands of Audi factory driver Frank Biela.
The first test races in various European racing series are scheduled for the 2009 season, with delivery to customers planned from the autumn of this coming year. These cars will be manufactured by Audi Sport, quattro GmbH (responsible for the regular R8) and Audi Hungaria Motor Kft.
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