2020 Audi R8 LMS GT2
The R8 race car tailored for those that wear tailor-made suits on the week daysby Michael Fira, on
The Goodwood Festival of Speed is a great place to go if you want to see some of the world’s most revered racing cars of the past as well as a vast array of modern machinery and peeks into the future. The festival that takes places annually since 1993 on the grounds of the Goodwood House is also the place favored by some manufacturers to unveil their new products. The 2019 edition was chosen by Audi as the perfect occasion to pull the wraps off Audi Sport’s latest creation: the 640 horsepower Audi R8 LMS GT2, the most powerful racing car Audi has ever sold through its Customer Racing department. It’s designed for a new formula of Grand Touring racing that slots between GT3 and GT4 and caters for amateur racers looking for hight output machinery that’s quick down a straight line and easy to manage through the twisty bits.
Audi is a pragmatic company. Audi doesn’t put out a product for a class it doesn’t think will succeed. When Audi finally built a GT3-spec car, the class had been around for three full seasons, and it showed no signs of slowing down with more cars joining in (that same year Alpina debuted a B6-based contender, for instance) at a steady pace. Then there was the R8 LMS GT4, the GT3’s baby brother, its more pedestrian relative that is still tremendously fast (it puts out somewhere between 580 horsepower and 600 horsepower sans limiter, as much as the GT3 car without restrictions) and also expensive.
The RS3 LMS followed suit, the first sedan built by Audi Sport, one that, again, was built to be raced in a burgeoning category: TCR Touring Cars. The RS3 arrived in 2017, three years after the TCR format was first introduced. This is what makes the R8 LMS GT2 the odd one out. It’s the first Audi Sport-built car to be launched before any cars built to this ruleset ever took the track. So Audi must already know that it will be a success.
2020 Audi R8 LMS GT2
Horsepower @ RPM:640
Torque @ RPM:405
0-60 time:4 sec.
Top Speed:170 mph
- Aggressive front end with massive inlet
- Main vents cause air to flow past the windshield
- This means the scoop on the top is able to do its job
- Sean neck rear wing as wide as the car
- GT4-style diffuser
- Body panels and floor made out of CFRP
- SIdeblades are akin to those on the R8 Sypder
- Visually stands apart from the GT3 and GT4 models
- Rides on nine-spoke rims
The Audi R8 LMS GT2 made its debut looking like its drivers during a corporate event: wearing a white shirt with small Audi Sport logos here and there. Indeed, the white paint on the first R8 LMS GT2 we got to see in action hides a few very interesting details, some underlined by the dayglo paint along the edge of the splitter, the sideblades, and, of course, all over the curved plank of the rear wing and the diffuser. The tires have also been adorned like this to better underline the brown multi-spoke wheels, but you can bet the profile will sport Pirelli logos by next year as all of the SRO-organized championships run Pirelli rubber.
For someone who's not accustomed to Audi's lineup of racing cars, the GT2 LMS and the GT3 LMS may seem like two birds of a feather, but the two are actually quite different, and the easiest way to tell them apart is by looking for the roof scoop that sprouts from the engine cover.
If the car you’re looking at doesn’t have it, it’s the GT3 version, if it does, it’s the GT2. Due to the fact that it has that snorkel on the top, the GT2 version also lacks the air inlets aft of the side windows which the GT3 does have. Also, on the GT3 car, the rocker panels protrude outward more, and the NACA duct just before the rear wheel wells is smaller. Such tiny details set the two apart and make the GT3 quicker over a lap of just about any track in comparison to the GT2.
In the front, this lastest race-going R8 features, like its two brothers, a huge, gaping mouth with two extra vertical inlets on either side. The R8 GT4 features smaller vents while the GT3 version comes with none at all. That’s because, in the case of the GT3 model, the main inlet features two vertical pillars that separate the three tunnels underneath the bodywork: the middle one that directs air underneath the hood, through it and over the windshield and the two on either side for the brakes. The GT2 model’s main opening only directs air underneath the hood before exiting through a pair of vents in the top part of the hood with carefully designed curved elements that direct the air so that it doesn’t go over the windshield and mess up the airflow towards the roof scoop.
The vents on the sides take in air for the brakes that then exits through the openings cut through the flares aft of the wheel arch.
The headlights look identical (the same pattern of the LED running lights as the GT3 model), and they sit in their caved-in home as is the case with the other racing R8s. Towards the outer edge of each light cluster, the black cover makes you think there’s an opening there but, in fact, there is none, it just marks the area where the top of the bodywork (the hood, basically) comes flush with the bumper. Besides the carbon fiber splitter that gets narrower towards the sides, the bumper also hosts one winglet on either side - the GT3 model features a pair of them both on the left and on the right.
On the top of the front fenders, there are vents with five slats each. The doors of the R8 LMS GT2 are pushed in so that air can easily get into the sideblades. There are refueling nozzles on both B-pillars. The rocker panels marked with the Audi Sport logo are made out of CFRP just like the whole of the underbelly. The nine-spoke, center-lock rims are similar to those on the R8 LMS GT3 and, behind them, there are jumbo-sized Brembo brakes for the much-needed stopping power required by a car that’s faster than the aforementioned R8 LMS GT3.
From the back, you'll immediately see the mesh grille that goes across the rear center panel.
There are two openings below the narrow surface where the Audi logo and the R8 logo are placed for the exhaust, and there are two more placed outwards, the one on the right for the air jacks. The LED bar of the taillights mimics the design of the one inside the headlights, only reversed. Down below, the large diffuser sports five vertical elements and two large openings directly behind the chunky rear tires. The GT3 car comes with a completely different diffuser with two vertical elements on either side, a flat surface in the middle and extra horizontal elements sprouting from the fender flares behind the wheels.
Overall, the R8 LMS GT2 looks like much more like a menacing race car than the GT2 RS Clubsport does but looks may be deceiving. Of course, while the R8 LMS GT2 can be a very cool track day toy, it will show what it’s got in competition against the Porsche and at least two more (as of yet) unannounced rivals (according to Stephane Ratel himself who said that up to five manufacturers might join in with GT2 machinery for the opening 2020 season).
|Wheelbase||108 inches (approximate)|
- Bare racing cockpit
- Sports multi-functional wheel
- Added knobs and buttons on the center console
- Roll cage made of thinner but higher density steel than in GT4
- Features a fire suppression system
- ABS, ESR, and ESP are standard
- Full FIA-complying bucket seat and harnesses
The interior of the Audi R8 LMS GT2 is purposefully bare although it does come with everything the driver will need.
When you manage to jump over the roll cage and get buckled up in the tight bucket seat, you’ll be able to feast your eyes with the acres of carbon fiber in front of you and the sea of buttons on the center console - although you’ll mostly just use the six on the steering wheel and those two outer knobs on the wheel, the TC (Traction Control) knob and the ABS (Anti-lock Brakes System) knob.
While very much a racing interior, the R8 LMS GT2 still sports three stalks behind the U-shaped steering wheel, one of them to control the wipers and another for the indicators (yes, this car does have functional indicators). You’ll also notice the air vents taken straight from the road-going R8 because, just like that one, the R8 LMS comes with air conditioning. This is motivated by the fact that he gentlemen (and women) that will drive these cars aren’t hardcore, full-time racers, but more casual drivers that drive as a means to relax and have fun and, as such, A/C is a must for them to keep cool during races (even if they are one-hour sprints where two drivers complete one 30-minute stint apiece).
Each of the buttons on the wheel has a differently colored outline.
The one for the drink bottle is blue, the one radio is orange, and the one for the automatic headlights flash is silver (the page button refers to the different menus on the digital display in front of the wheel. This display is quintessential as it shows you everything you need to know including your lap time, the amount of fuel you use per lap, the total amount of fuel still left in the tank, as well as tire pressures, oil pressure, oil temperature, engine temperature, water temperature, split times, and so on and so forth. Having said this, you won’t really be looking down at your screen, unless something goes wrong with the car and you scramble to find out how to fix it.
As you’d expect, the S-Tronic gearbox is operated via flappy paddles behind the wheel but, in order to get in reverse, you must press a button on the center console. There is also a button there for the rain lights, for the hazard lights, and for the fuel pumps. There are also some more knobs taken from the road car just below the vents on the center console, namely the knobs for the A/C system. While it may all look cumbersome and tricky, each button and knob is labeled from the factory so you won’t have to spend hours upon hours browsing through the owner’s manual to see what does what as if you just bought yourself an ’80s Lamborghini.
In terms of safety, the R8 LMS GT2 incorporates all the new technologies as well as some old-fashioned ones like the safety nets on either side of the seat or the six-point harnesses.
Among the more modern ones, there’s a fire extinguishing system and also a rescue hatch in the roof. Since there is no back window due to the presence of the roof scoop, you can see behind via a dashboard-mounted rear-view camera. The doors are made out of carbon fiber, just like most of the body panels and the underbody, and they conceal the aluminum honeycomb protection structure.
- Powered by the unhinged 5.2-liter V-10
- Is touted as most powerful Audi Sport product ever
- Puts out 640 horsepower and over 405 torques
- Lightweight Double wishbone suspension all around
- Faster in a straight line than both a GT3 or a GT4-spec R8
- Slower over a full lap, however
- S Tronic dual-clutch seven-speed gearbox
- Weighs in at just 2,976 pounds
If you go and look for the specifications of the 2019 Audi R8, you’ll see that, depending on the version you pick, power ranges between 570 horsepower and 620 horsepower (in the R8 Performance that also delivers 428 pound-feet of torque). You’ll be then happy to find out that the R8 LMS GT2 delivers 640 horsepower and 405 pound-feet of twist.
That's a teeny bit less torque than in the most powerful road car, but that's actually a good thing because, in the GT2, all of the oomph is dispatched to the back wheels - no Quattro here.
What this means is that, if you decide to run it without traction control, you must possess some really quick hands because, in spite of that towering swan-neck wing, the back will step out of line. In short, just keep the aids on if you aren’t a professional racing driver of sorts.
So, what does 640 horsepower mean in a race car like this? Well, the R8 LMS GT2 produces as much as 140 horsepower more than the R8 LMS GT3 (with the BoP applied that limits the power of GT3 cars to about 500 horsepower although they can sometimes be allowed to run with up to 550 ponies). Without any restrictors, the GT3 version is still down on power, Audi quoting a ’raw’ output of 585 horsepower. The GT4 version, meanwhile, is actually more powerful than the GT3 one and, without BoP, puts out about 605 horsepower - but that still doesn’t top or even match the R8 LMS GT2.
With so much oomph, this latest thoroughbred racer from Ingolstadt is the fastest of the lot in a straight line. You should expect it to easily surpass 170 mph given a straight long enough (think of the Mistral Straight at Paul Ricard, for instance). While we don’t have 0-60 mph times, we reckon that 5.2-liter, naturally aspirated V-10 strapped to this lightweight beast will deliver sub-4.0 seconds times.
The GT2 model tips the scales at just under 3,000 pounds making it 220 pounds lighter than the R8 LMS GT4 and a whopping 770 pounds lighter than a street-legal R8.
Audi said it combined technical solutions from both the GT3 and the GT4 models when developing the GT2 version - this is both for reasons related to cost-cutting as well as making use of technology that’s already been tried and tested. For instance, the engineers fitted brand-new hub carriers and wishbones to the R8 LMS GT2 that are mated to the brake calipers of the GT3 version in the front and the GT4 brake calipers in the back. Suspension is by double wishbone all around.
Meanwhile, steering is by rack-and-pinion with an electrohydraulic servo pump with synergies from the GT4 modular kit. The disc brakes are made out of steel (14.9 inches in diameter in the front and 13.7 inches in diameter in the rear) and are served by a hydraulic dual-circuit braking system. The transmission is a seven-speed, dual-clutch unit.
|Engine||90-degree, 40-valve, DOHC, 5.2-liter, naturally aspirated V-10|
|Output||640 horsepower and over 405 pound-feet of torque|
|Performance||Top speed of over 170 mph and 0-60 mph in under 4 seconds|
|Gearbox||S-Tronic, seven-speed sequential with two electrohydraulically operated multi-plate clutches in an oil bath|
|Differential||Mechanical limited-slip differential|
|Steering||Electrohydraulic rack and pinion steering|
|Brakes||Hydraulic dual-circuit braking system, steel brake discs all around with ABS|
|Suspension||Double wishbones front and rear, struts with coil springs and adjustable dampers, plus adjustable stabilizer bars front and rear|
In the U.S., a road-going R8 goes for anywhere between $164,900 and $194,400, but if you want an R8 LMS GT2, you’ll have to pony up $381,000. To put it into perspective, the GT3 version costs $405,000 without the (optional) spare package that adds another $41,000. Meanwhile, a GT4 model will set you back $232,000. The advantage of the GT4 model is that it is eligible to race in a bigger number of series (the GT2 will be eligible to race in the SRO-organized series in the U.S., the Americas, and Asia, as well as the British GT Championship but that’s about it for now).
Porsche is the only other manufacturer to announce a car that could be raced in the GT2 category. From the outside. the GT2 RS Clubsport looks like any other GT2 RS albeit with some racing-style center-lock rims and a bigger wing. However, as you’d expect, the changes go much deeper than that. It sports carbon fiber doors, bumper, roof (with extraction hatch), engine lid, and side skirts, as well as a racing fuel cell. It weighs just 3,064 pounds making it 176 pounds lighter than the standard GT2 RS but also almost 90 pounds heavier than the Audi.
The engine is the same 3.8-liter flat-six from the road car with the two turbochargers strapped to it to make 700 PS or 691 horsepower - just like the street-legal version. The PSM stability management set-up and an ABS system keep everything in check. Just like the Audi, the Porsche is fitted with a seven-speed transmission with paddle shifters. Unlike the Audi, however, Porsche says it will cap the production at just 200 units. Each one will cost a little over $456,000. In other words, you can get a whole package of spares for your R8 LMS GT2 for the price of a Porsche.
The question is now, of course, if the extra oomph will give the 911 GT2 RS Clubsport an advantage in the areas where the GT2 cars are designed to excel: in a straight line and out of the corners. We’ll have to wait and see but, judging by Audi Sport’s business model, the R8 LMS GT2 will also be selling like hotcakes no matter what Porsche or anybody else comes up with.
Check out more details on the Porsche 911 GT2 RS Clubsport
As we said above and at the beginning of this review, Audi is not the company to come up with a product before there’s a place for it to be used. Considering that it did just that with the R8 LMS GT2, we tend to believe that it did the maths and that the results came out just fine for a company that sold 50 R8 LMS GT4s in just a year and a bit, 100 RS LMS’ in just a few months and well over 250 R8 LMS GT3s since the model was introduced a decade ago.
Of course, given the series was designed with gentlemen drivers in mind, the results of the R8 LMS GT2 in competition will depend greatly on the quality of the driver pairings. This is not the case in a Pro/Pro-Am series, but the GT2 class is set to be introduced as an Am-only (or maybe Am and Pro-Am, it’s not really set in stone right now) category and will feature prominently in the GT Sports Club, a championship organized by the SRO that caters exclusively towards amateur drivers as well as older gentlemen drivers (there, drivers over 60 years of age have their own class, for instance).
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