In its short life span, Audi’s R8 LMS race car has proved to be a major force in the racing scene, having already amassed over 100 victories despite being only a couple of years old.
The R8 LMS’ world domination includes wins in Europe, Australia, and Asia with America being the only notable region that it hasn’t conquered. You can blame that on the stricter Grand-Am regulations, but Audi is looking into adhering to these regulations by building a car that will conform to the standards of Grand-Am racing.
“We’re convinced that we’re making a very attractive offer to our customers in the USA that will meet with great response,” says Romolo Liebchen, Head of customer racing at quattro GmbH.
“The anniversary event of the Daytona 24 Hours is a perfect occasion for the debut of the U.S. version of the new Audi R8 LMS.”
Among the tweaks and modifications being done on the R8 LMS to make it Grand-Am ready include the use of thicker-walled tubing in the roll cage, a new front splitter, a rear diffuser, and a new Grand-Am-spec rear wing.
In terms of performance, the R8 LMS Grand-AM will also come with a modified engine and the addition of an air restrictor that will drop the output of the R8 LMS from 493 horspepower to around 450 to 470 horsepower. Certain elements of the R8 LMS will also be removed for the Grand Am version, including the anti-lock system and traction control. Incidentally, Grand Am rules view these technologies as driving aids in the US.
UPDATE 12/12/2011: Audi has announced that the R8 GRAND-AM is now ready for the North American market. The car successfully finished its testing at the Daytona race track (Florida) and the first deliveries will be made in January, 2012.
"We successfully tested all the modifications at Daytona," says Romolo Liebchen, Head of Customer Sport at quattro GmbH. "With Frank Stippler we developed a sound and solid set-up for our customers and also gathered valuable findings in the endurance tests. The durability of wearing parts and runs at high outside temperatures meet challenging demands. We can now provide our racing customers with concrete advice and reference values for fielding the car."
UPDATE 01/24/2012: The Audi R8 GRAND-AM will make its debut this weekend on the 50th running of the Daytona 24 Hours from January 26th to 29th. "Our team prepared for this step at previous runs in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge. APR is known around the world as one of the leading tuners of Audi, Volkswagen, Seat and Škoda vehicles. We’re looking forward to the Audi R8 GRAND-AM with huge anticipation, our customers and fans are really excited and since the ‘Roar before the 24’ test we’ve just been dying for the 24-hour race to start."
UPDATE 01/27/2012: Audi has unveiled new images and a video of the R8 Grand-Am during its practice time at the Rolex 24 at Daytona. The race will be aired on Speed T.V. on Saturday, January 28, 2012 at 2:30 EST.
UPDATE 07/17/12: Audi France has released a pretty cool video of the R8 LMS Grand-Am Racer titled "Symbiosis". Check it out by clicking on the photo above!