The competitiveness of the Audi R8 LMS ultra in GT world championships lends itself to the widely known belief that the car is as good a racer you can get. That competitiveness is expected to continue in the 2014 season, specifically at the Nurburgring 24 Hours where as many as eight R8 LMS ultra cars are tipped to compete.
Ahead of the actual 24-hour race this coming June, the R8 LMS ultra was put through the paces over the weekend in qualification for the endurance race. While it failed to upend the BMW Z4’s dominance, don’t expect for one second that the R8 LMS ultra won’t be a contender when the real race at the "Green Hell" commences this coming June.
All in all, five teams will be fielding the R8 LMS ultra at the 24 Hours of Nurburgring, with some notable drivers in the mix, including Le Mans winners Frank Biela, Marcel Fässler, Stéphane Ortelli, and Marco Werner. These four drivers have accounted for 11 wins at the ’Ring, and will be complemented by former GT1 World Champions Marc Basseng and Markus Winkelhock, defending FIA GT Champion Laurens Vanthoo, and three-time Porsche Supercup Champion René Rast.
That’s as good a lineup to drive the R8 LMS ultra at the 24 Hours of Nurburgring. It’s going to face some stiff challenges, especially with the BMW Z4 and the defending-champion Mercedes SLS AMG GT3 in the fold. But don’t expect the R8 LMS ultra to just sit idle and let the rest get the spoils. The racer is tipped and ready to make some waves when the endurance race kicks off this coming June.
Click past the jump to read more about Audi R8 LMS ultra.
Audi R8 LMS ultra in detail
This isn’t your standard Audi R8 , folks. Certain elements have been upgraded to ensure it’s competitiveness in a race as arduous as the 24 Hours of Nurburgring. Numerous aerodynamic components have been added, including the under-floor element that made its debut in last year’s model, further improving the flow of air into the wheel arches. Likewise, the race car’s diffuser was also tweaked, as was the front suspension to help drivers speed through the raceway without losing grip.
For this year’s R8 LMS ultra, Audi has developed a powertrain that can produce 562 horsepower — 12 horsepower more than the road-going R8 V-10 Plus. This engine mates to a six-speed sequential gearbox that delivers power to the rear wheels.
Le Mans winners, GT World Champions, a stratosphere jumper and strong customer teams – they all rely on the Audi R8 LMS ultra in the 42nd running of the Nürburgring 24 Hours. For the first time, several teams will be competing in a qualification race on the first weekend in April.
With 190 participants from around the world the 24-hour race in the ‘Green Hell’ of the Nürburgring Nordschleife on June 21 and 22 marks a highlight on the motorsport calendar of fans and drivers. Like last year, five Audi teams, supported by Audi Sport customer racing, will be putting a total of eight Audi R8 LMS ultra cars on the grid of the classic ‘marathon’ in the Eifel.
The 24-hour race will be preceded by a ‘little brother.’ In the qualification race on the 25.378-kilometre version of the Nürburgring on April 5 and 6, the teams will have a valuable opportunity for testing without the pressure of a championship. Many of the teams that will be running in the 24-hour race are using the event with its free practice and two qualifying sessions plus the six-hour race to prepare for the main event. In the qualification race, the organisers will be awarding ten of the total of 30 grid positions for the top-30 qualifying session in June that will decide the starting order for the 24-hour race. In addition, drivers will be able to demonstrate that they possess the Nordschleife routine required by the regulations. Last weekend, Audi managed a good beginning of the season on the Nordschleife when Marc Basseng/Frank Stippler/Laurens Vanthoor (D/D/B) in the Audi R8 LMS ultra won the first round of the Endurance Championship.
As in the past years, the Audi line-up for the 24-hour race consists of high-caliber drivers. Four former Le Mans winners – Frank Biela (D), Marcel Fässler (CH), Stéphane Ortelli (MC) and Marco Werner (D) – with a total of eleven victories in the classic French ‘marathon’ under their belt, are driving the Audi R8 LMS ultra. The former GT1 World Champions Marc Basseng and Markus Winkelhock plus the current FIA GT Champion Laurens Vanthoor (B) and the three-time Porsche Supercup Champion René Rast (D) complete the line-up. In addition, the field includes the current Audi DTM driver Nico Müller (CH) and the former DTM driver Rahel Frey (CH) as well as seasoned Nordschleife campaigners. Following his stratosphere jump, extreme athlete Felix Baumgartner (A) has found a new challenge. He opted for the Audi R8 LMS ultra of the Audi race experience and will be making his debut on the Nürburgring Nordschleife.
Five former winners of the 24-hour race are relying on Audi as well. Marc Basseng (D), Christopher Haase (D), Frank Stippler (D) and Markus Winkelhock (D), who in 2012 celebrated the first victory of the Audi R8 LMS ultra at the Nürburgring, will be on the grid in the 570-hp GT3 race car again in 2014. Nicki Thiim (DK), one of the 2013 winners, will be contesting the race in an Audi R8 LMS ultra for the first time.