Audi’s latest GT3 race car might be a mere 10 weeks old, but it’s already bringing top-podium finishes. The recent 24-hour-long battle at the ‘Ring saw major German automakers like Audi, BMW, Porsche, and Mercedes vie for the checkered in a nail-biter where the lead swapped hands a total of 35 times, a new record for the 45-year-old event. But in the end, it was the #28 R8 LMS of Audi Sport Team WRT that took top honors.

Piloting the racer was Christopher Mies, Nico Muller, Edward Sandstrom, and Laurens Vanthoor. Taking second was the #25 BMW Z4 GT3, which completed the race 40 seconds behind the Audi, with the #44 Falken Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R coming in third one lap down. The pole-sitting #26 Marc VDS BMW Z4 GT3 and #5 Black Falcon Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 rounded out the top five finishes.

“This was a weekend of thrilling racing, as well as an intense and nerve-wracking one,” said Romolo Liebchen, Head of Audi Sport customer racing. “Sincere congratulations to our winners who never lost their cool even in the face of some minor irregularities, and held up to the pressure.”

As the race wore into its second and third hours, rain began to fall, followed by heavier showers at the five-hour mark. Over 30 cars were forced to retire, falling victim to mechanical issues, on-track collisions and adverse conditions, but the #28 R8 persevered, even overcoming a flash fire in the pits during a refuel with just four hours left on the clock.

“The whole squad of Audi Sport customer racing is happy to see the new R8 LMS instantly delivering on our promise of it being a competitive, attractive and reliable race car our customers can look forward to starting this fall,” said Liebchen.

Continue reading for the full story.

Why it matters

A total of four R8 LMS cars took the grid this year. At several points, last year’s winning #1 Audi Sport Team Phoenix led the race, but were forced to retire following an accident that put Christian Mamerow under hospital observation. The team’s #4 sister car also had to pull out after Mike Rockenfeller spun on an oil slick midway through the race, colliding with another car. Meanwhile, WRT’s second competitor took seventh after an early accident put it three laps down.

In related news, the marque currently leads the FIA World Endurance Championship with 70 points, 17 points ahead of Porsche.

But despite these other shortcomings, this latest win bodes well for Audi, which is known for competing (and winning) in a variety of sports car racing series throughout the world. It’s the third career victory for Audi at the demanding ‘Ring 24 Hours, with the first coming in 2012. The Belgian-run WRT team is also the first non-German entrant to achieve victory at the enduro in two decades.

Furthermore, victories like this raise Audi’s visibility in the racing and performance world, as some 200,000 spectators came out to watch the event, with the Audi completing 156 laps, a total of nearly 2,500 miles.

All told, everyone involved seems happy with the results: “We’ve already won the Spa 24 Hours with Audi and now we achieved success on the Nurburgring as well,” said Vincent Vosse, Audi Sport Team WRT manager. “My thanks for this go to a motivated squad, four talented drivers and to Audi Sport customer racing for their solid support. We’re very happy that we can thank Audi by taking the first 24-hour victory of the new race car.”

Clearly, Audi knows what it’s doing when it comes to enduro racing. In related news, the marque currently leads the FIA World Endurance Championship with 70 points, 17 points ahead of Porsche. Look for TopSpeed’s coverage of the upcoming 24 Hours of Le Mans in June to see if it can extend its dominance even further in this grueling sport.

2015 Audi R8 LMS

2015 Audi R8 LMS Exterior
- image 621916

Debuting alongside its production counterpart at this year’s Geneva Motor Show, the second-generation GT3-spec R8 LMS shares roughly 50 percent of its components with its road-going equivalent. It’s got some mighty big shoes to fill, as the first-gen accumulated a huge number of competition successes to its name, including 26 GT3 Championship wins, 23 titles in other international series, plus seven 24-hour race wins. Since its debut, 130 examples have been sold to customer teams, making it one of the most popular GT3 cars in the world.

Specs include a 2,700-pound curb weight, a flat aero underbody, and a 5.2-liter V-10 engine producing 585 horsepower at the rear wheels via a six-speed, paddle-shifted, electro-hydraulic gearbox.

Read our full review here.

Press Release

The Audi R8 LMS managed a brilliant 24-hour racing debut by clinching victory at the Nürburgring. Audi only unveiled its GT3 race car ten weeks ago – now the production-based sports car impressed in a tough battle that lasted up to the last hour of the race. In the end, Audi Sport Team WRT with Christopher Mies/Nico Müller/Edward Sandström/Laurens Vanthoor (D/CH/S/B) was 40 seconds faster than the BMW Team Marc VDS.

Audi R8 LMS Wins Nürburgring 24 Hours High Resolution Exterior
- image 630554

The battle for victory in the Eifel endurance race has not been as thrilling as this in a long time. During the 24 hours the lead changed 35 times – a record in the event that has been held since 1970. After the race’s midpoint, either the number ‘28’ R8 LMS or its fiercest rival was running in front, depending on the pit stop sequence. In the end, the Belgian Audi team prevailed with a concentrated performance of its drivers and solid teamwork. Vincent Vosse’s squad and each of the four race drivers celebrated their first victory in this classic event.

“This was a weekend of thrilling racing, as well as an intense and nerve-wracking one,” said Romolo Liebchen, Head of Audi Sport customer racing. “Sincere congratulations to our winners who never lost their cool even in the face of some minor irregularities and held up to the pressure. The whole squad of Audi Sport customer racing is happy to see the new R8 LMS instantly delivering on our promise of it being a competitive, attractive and reliable race car our customers can look forward to starting this fall.”

Audi R8 LMS Wins Nürburgring 24 Hours High Resolution Exterior
- image 630555

Vincent Vosse was delighted about another success of his young team: “We’ve already won the Spa 24 Hours with Audi and now we achieved success on the Nürburgring as well. My thanks for this go to a motivated squad, four talented drivers and to Audi Sport customer racing for their solid support. We’re very happy that we can thank Audi by taking the first 24-hour victory of the new race car.”

About 50 percent of the GT3 race car is based on its production counterpart it simultaneously celebrated its debut with in March at the Geneva Motor Show. Four new Audi R8 LMS cars were on the grid of the 24-hour race. Last year’s winners Christopher Haase/Christian Mamerow/René Rast/Markus Winkelhock in car number ‘1’ of Audi Sport Team Phoenix led the race several times but were forced to retire following an accident by Christian Mamerow. The German was hospitalized for observation. In the sister car, number ‘4,’ Mike Rockenfeller spun on track due to an oil spill shortly before the race’s midpoint. He was hit by another car that was following him, causing damage to the Audi that was too severe for continuing the race.

The second race car of the Belgian Audi Club Team WRT saw the checkered flag in seventh place. Accident damage had caused Pierre Kaffer (D) and his team-mates Christer Jöns (D), Nicki Thiim (DK) and Laurens Vanthoor (B) to lose three laps in the early stage. However, with good lap times, this driver quartet proved the competitiveness of the Audi R8 LMS as well.

Audi R8 LMS Wins Nürburgring 24 Hours High Resolution Exterior
- image 630557

The time-tested Audi R8 LMS ultra model – the 2012 and 2014 winner of the Nürburgring 24 Hours – completed the good result. Team Twin Busch Motorsport with Dennis Busch/Marc Busch/Christiaan Frankenhout (D/D/NL) saw the finish in 11th place, followed by the Audi race experience. The Asian driver line-up of Franky Congfu Cheng/Marchy Lee/Shaun Thong/Alex Yoong (CN/HK/HK/MAL) achieved 12th place whereas the sister car retired after an accident.

Race results

1 Mies/Müller/Sandström/Vanthoor (Audi R8 LMS), 156 laps
2 Luhr/Martin/Palttala/Westbrook (BMW) + 40.729s
3 Dumbreck/Henzler/Imperatori/Ragginger (Porsche) – 1 lap
4 Adorf/Catsburg/Farfus/Müller (BMW) – 1 lap
5 Buurman/Al Faisal/Haupt/van Lagen (Mercedes) – 1 lap
6 Cerruti/Edwards/Keilwitz/Laser (BMW) – 3 laps
7 Jöns/Kaffer/Thiim/Vanthoor (Audi R8 LMS) – 3 laps
8 Brück/Primat/Schmid/Seefried (Bentley) – 5 laps
9 Buncombe/Hoshino/Krumm/Ordonez (Nissan) – 5 laps
10 Heyer/Huff/Frommenwiler/Krognes (Mercedes) – 5 laps
11 Busch/Busch/Frankenhout (Audi R8 LMS ultra) – 7 laps
12 Cheng/Lee/Thong/Yoong (Audi R8 LMS ultra) – 8 laps

View the full press release Hide press release
Press release
What do you think?
Show Comments
Car Finder: