This is the race version of Audi's R8 V10 and R8 GT supercars, the R8 LMS. Audi scooped a load of silverware in 2009 with these cars and added a class win in the Nurburging 24hrs covered in Phoenix Racing livery. For the 2010 season the Audi R8 LMS was been updated with tweaks to the suspension, gearbox and cooling system. How does the track-spec Audi R8 LMS compare to its roadgoing brethren? Read on for our first drive review of the Audi R8 LMS to find out.
Audi R8 LMS: aggressive visuals
This particular car, operated by United Autosports and running in the European GT3 championship certainly looks the part with its huge carbon wing and loud Stars and Stripes graphics. Squeeze between the bars of the roll cage and your first reaction is: ‘doesn’t Stephen Hawking need his chair back?’. The basic shape of the dash and centre console remains, but in the place of the conventional instruments there’s a square digital display, giving information about revs and gear selection.
Driving the Audi R8 LMS: don’t stall it…
Flick the master switch, pull back on the ignition toggle, hit the black button to the right and the V10 growls hello. It’s the same engine as the road car’s but tuned to produce 500bhp, around 25bhp less than the standard R8 V10, and 52bhp less than the new R8 GT’s. The gearbox is a six-speed sequential unit with paddles, so what’s that clutch pedal doing in the footwell? It does work, but you only use it to pull away from rest. Bracing myself for a waahhhh-wah-wah-wahhhh-wah kangaroo start, I gingerly feed in the clutch. But it’s neither heavy nor snappy as you’d expect of a race car.
Audi R8 LMS around Silverstone
We’re on Silverstone’s baby Stowe Circuit, formerly a rubbish little triangle, now made significantly more interesting thanks to some twiddly new tarmac sections on two of the points. The R8 is certainly quick in a straight line, but not savagely so. As long as the weather is dry and the front wheels are pointing in the right direction the fat slicks will take almost everything your right foot can give despite this R8 being rear-wheel drive – Audi’s famed Quattro four-wheel drive isn’t allowed under current GT3 rules.
Unsurprisingly grip is immense, yet the beautifully tactile steering never loads up badly. The brakes (steel, not carbon) however, do need a serious push to release their full decelerative potential. Obviously there’s no stability system to bale you out but a 12-stage traction control dial is just a hand stretch away. But whether flicking through the chicane just past the finish line or braking while turning to get ready for the tight left hander beyond, the R8 feels rock solid.
The appeal of the Audi R8 LMS isn’t hard to see. From a sponsor’s point of view it stands out in a sea of 911s, from a team’s point of view it looks likely to be capable of bringing in the silverware, and from a driver’s it’s both brilliant fun and easy to drive. It proved so quick in its debut season that it was forced to run with a weight penalty and stricter rev limit.
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