Audi is preparing an assault on US motorsport with its R8 LMS model, which to date has only been homologated for International GT3 competition. However, the Germans are preparing a version that will conform to Grand-Am regulations, to make its debut at the anniversary race of the Daytona 24 Hours in January 2012 in the hands of Audi customer teams.
With more than 40 units already sold, Audi's GT3 sports car has celebrated more than 100 victories in Europe, Asia, Australia and South America. With overall victories at the Bathurst 12 Hours in Australia, the Spa and Zolder 24 Hours in Belgium and another GT3 victory at the Nurburgring 24 Hours, the production-derived GT3 racer has proved its qualities on numerous occasions this year.
From 2012 on, the Audi R8 LMS will also be available on the North American market to coincide with the 50th running of the Daytona 24 Hours (January 28-29, 2012) endurance race.
For use in the Grand-Am series, quattro GmbH is modifying its GT3's chassis, body, engine and suspension. The chassis, for example, will get a rollcage that's 2mm thicker than currently offered by Audi to meet the series' regulations. A new front splitter, a modified rear diffuser and standard Grand-Am rear wing will inevitably change the aerodynamics of the sports car.
The output of the engine will also be reduced to about 450-470hp by an air restrictor and new engine electronics. At the same time, the capacity of the fuel tank, which can now be filled on both sides of the vehicle, is limited to 22 gallons. Three-piece wheels will be used but the car's standard anti-lock brakes and traction control are prohibited by Grand-Am.
For any US team buying the new car, Audi Sport will send a technical crew to support the entire 2012 season. The company is also exploring the possibility of future applications for the Audi R8 LMS in other endurance events in the United States.