Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Audi R8 LMS a living GT3 legend

By Tarek Ramchani

Introduced in 2009, the Audi R8 LMS is now one of the best GT3 racing cars around, if not the best. In less than four years of competition the car has achieved countless race victories and championship titles from all around the globe.

Audi R8 LMS  at the Spa 24 Hours 2009
Back in 2009, Audi started a new chapter in his racing legacy, the development of customer racing cars, purpose built for privateer teams. The Audi R8 LMS was born, following in the steps of another Audi R8, the LMP1 machine of Le Mans. Called the "R16" in house at Audi Sport the car was immediately successful in hands of satellite Audi teams all over Europe. The highlight was the FIA GT3 European Championship title for youngsters Christopher Haase and Christopher Mies with team Phoenix Racing. The Audi R8 LMS also won the demanding and fast growing ADAC GT Masters with Christian Abt. Another title as well in the Belgian Belcar series with team Phoenix. The car also did well in endurance racing. An impressive second overall in the Nurburgring 24 Hours. The R8 LMS achieved a stunning third outright months later at the Spa 24 Hours against much faster FIA GT1 and GT2 cars. A storming debut for a season which was planned to be only a learning year.

Belcar Endurance Championship 2010
From 2010, the Audi R8 LMS become available to customer teams around the globe. Many teams choose the R16 in various national and international GT series. With the introduction to customer teams the cars would be seen spreading all over the world, from Europe to Asia and even the Southern Hemisphere in Australia. The season saw many victories as the cars further established themselves as top contenders. Championship titles came in Portugal and Belgium along with many victories. All the cars were well represented as the car’s success began to really pick up momentum in GT racing.

100th Audi R8 LMS win
In 2011 the Audi R8 LMS victory count surpassed the 100 victories mark by August of that year. At the challenging Mount Panorama, Joest Racing won the Bathurst 12 Hours. The Audi R8 LMS with team WRT clinched the prestigious Spa 24 Hours, Audi's first ever outright win in Belgian classic. Another endurance win followed in Belgium at the Zolder 24 Hours, again with team WRT. At the end of the season Belgian Audi Club took both the teams and drivers titles in the Blancpain Endurance Series. An additional prestigious win came at the Grand Prix of Macau with Audi star Edoardo Mortara. Audi Sport Italia's Marco Bonanomi was crowned Italian GT champion. In Portugal Team Novadriver was really strong winning Iber Spanish GT. Plus many other wins in the VLN Endurance Series, French GT, Swedish GT, GT Asia and other racing series.

2012 Nurburgring 24 Hours victory
This year Audi introduced the Audi R8 LMS ultra, an evolution of the all conquering Audi R8 LMS. The new specification featuring a better aerodynamic package, more carbon parts and better cooling, making it one of the bests GT3s in the corners and with handling. The new "ultra" didn't wait a long time to be victorious. Wins already in FIA GT1 World Championship, Blancpain Endurance Series, the ADAC GT Masters, VLN Endurance at the Nordschleife, Italian GT, French GT Tour and more. The car proved again to be the GT3 car to beat. Fast in sprint races, and also becoming a master of endurance. The Audi R8 LMS ultra has already won three major enduro events this year, the Bathurst 12 Hours, Nürburgring 24 Hours and the Spa 24 Hours, all of them with team Phoenix Racing.

Audi R8 LMS ultra in FIA GT1
The 2012 season isn't over yet and many Audi teams worldwide are still fighting for more wins and titles. The Audi R8 LMS is now clearly one of the very best GT3 cars in the class history. It has won so much that car is now suffering from its own success. The Balance of Performance system is the heart of GT3 racing. The car is strongly penalized in many series as proven in the FIA GT1 World Championship, where Belgian Audi Club WRT drivers have to push beyond the limits to fight for positions. It is the same in many other series, where a very bad BoP is hitting the Audi R8 LMS cars. Despite the restrictions the car is still capable of great performances and battling for race wins. 2011 was a dream season for the older Audi R8 LMS, we hope 2012 will be the same for the new Audi R8 LMS ultra.

More information:
Audi R8 LMS R16 on Facebook