Audi R8 LMS: Lock, stock and two smoking tailpipes
We get shown around Misano by the winner of the Nürburgring 24 hours in his Audi R8 race car
Audi wheeled out a special treat for us at the recent launch of its new flagship R8 model, the V10 plus.
It had shipped in the winning race car from this year’s Nürburgring 24 hours along with the pilot that helped secure victories in all four serious endurance races it entered this year, including two gruelling twice round the clock efforts at the Nürburgring and Spa.
So with an R8 LMS and Markus Winklehock calmly sitting in the drivers seat waiting to go, I donned my Audi-branded fireproof suit and helmet and jumped in next to him for a few passenger laps.
The motor catches with a throaty rasp as 5.2-litres and 10-cylinders make their presence known. Gunning it out of the pit lane the revs flare in a hail of wheelspin – through the muffled sounds emanating from Winklehock’s helmet I’m picking up the tyres aren’t too warm…
No matter, because temperature comes up pretty quickly and in no time my head is flailing around the cabin under braking, cornering and acceleration like a rag doll.
Interestingly, Stephan Reil – head of Quattro GmbH, the outfit that’s developed the Audi R8 – says that over 50% of the racer’s parts come from the stock road car, including the engine (the surf board sized rear wing obviously isn’t and looks comically large. Functional though).
The V10 has been slightly tweaked to produce 570hp and the exhaust relieved of any form of silencing. It sounds glorious, especially with the staccato blip from the throttles when downshifting.
But all this means you can do a full season of racing on one engine with no refreshes. Try doing that in your Porsche 911 GT3 racer…
The real pleasure of our two lap jaunt is sitting next to a professional wheelman at work. He wasn’t hanging about either. The R8 LMS runs a touch of traction control (rules dictate it has to be rear-wheel drive, not four-wheel drive like the road car) and a tad of ABS, but it doesn’t stop the mid-engined monster getting a bit lairy on corner entry and exit.
Winkelhock uses aggressive flicks at the wheel to order the rear back into line when it starts to protest, never lifting the throttle. That’d cost you valuable time, obviously…
But I guess that’s how and why you win a brace of 24 hour races. By being on it all the time and never letting the opposition getting a sniff. You’ve got to be sympathetic to the car, but that doesn’t necessarily translate as being slow.
After I jump out of the already sweltering cockpit, it’s my turn to hop into the new R8 V10 plus and take it for a few laps myself. You can read what we thought about it here. Suffice to say, it’s quite good.
If I could have kept my head focussed on the circuit for more than the length of a short straight, maybe I’d have been able to glean some info from Markus’ lines. I’d have needed a neck the size of a tree trunk for that, though…
MSN Cars' Steve Walker takes the UK's cheapest new car for a test drive to see if it's worth parting only £5,995 for.
Date 23/05/13, Duration 4:17, Views 851
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