Audi customer racing: Know-how transfer between the race track and the road

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·         Construction of the Audi R8 LMS based on the production model

·         Werner Frowein, Managing Director of quattro GmbH: “Race car developed specifically for customer racing”

·         Impressive success rate with seven titles and 65 wins

Audi has been a successful participant in customer racing since 2009 with the R8 LMS. quattro GmbH builds the racing models at its motorsports factory in Heilbronn-Biberach. 35 units are currently being raced worldwide by customer and importer teams.

“The R8 LMS is the first race car from Audi developed specifically for customer racing,” says Werner Frowein, Managing Director of quattro GmbH. “The car allows our customers to also experience the sporty genes of the R8 family on the race track.” The R8 LMS is entered in 17 race series and numerous individual races in 2011 in the hope of expanding on its successful record of seven titles and 65 wins so far.

quattro GmbH is responsible for the construction and further development, and also for sales and technical support for the customer and importer teams. “Around 250 hours of work go into every Audi R8 LMS,” says Romolo Liebchen, Head of Audi Customer Racing. “Perfection is very important to us.”

The customer racing model is based on the aluminum body of the Audi R8. Since 90 percent of the components are identical, it comes from the body shop of the R8 production shop in Neckarsulm. The only difference is that the R8 LMS is also equipped with a safety cell designed specifically for racing.

Weight plays an important role in motorsports. Except for the doors and the roof, which are made of aluminum, the entire outer skin of the Audi R8 LMS is made of carbon fiber. To save even more weight, the body is not painted, but rather coated only with a cathodic dip coating (CDC).

The race car is then assembled at the customer racing factory at the satellite site in Heilbronn-Biberach, roughly five kilometers (three miles) from the Audi site in Neckarsulm. Synergies are exploited here, as well. Audi developed the production version of the R8 as a pure sports car. As a result, a little more than half of the parts are used in the racing version without modification or with only slight modifications.

The V10 engine is also largely identical to the production version. “That gives it unrivaled durability,” says Liebchen. By the same token, the lessons learned from racing flow back into series production. The coilover suspension of the R8 GT comes from the customer racing model – yet another example of the transfer of know-how between motorsports and production.

The concept will be expanded in the near future, with a modular customer racing program offering interested buyers a model lineup featuring new vehicles beginning in 2012 and significantly expanding the classes and types of races in which Audi customer race cars can enter. The Audi TT RS, which made its debut as an endurance racer during testing on the North Loop of the Nürburgring in 2010, is the first step down this road.

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