If Audi has taught observers and fans one thing when comes to their approach in motorsports, know that the company is never keen about long waits for success. Last year, Audi made its debut in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series’ GT category with two customer-fielded R8 supercars. Recording an overall finishing position of 44th and 45th in the 2012 Rolex 24 at Daytona, the debut of the Audi R8 Grand-Am race machine was nowhere near the competition level spectators were used to seeing from the German brand’s sports car effort. One year later, the Audi R8 Grand-Am brigade arrived at Daytona International Speedway with a decisively bolder ambition in 2013; capture GT class victory after 24 hours of racing.
Accepting the previous year as a test, Audi removed several barriers to secure a powerful showing at the 2013 Rolex 24 at Daytona. Doubling their force of Audi R8 Grand-Am cars this time around, all four vehicles would again be campaigned by so-called customer teams. However, the 2013 showing at Daytona for the R8 Grand-Am race cars were visibly supported by a much greater presence from Audi Sport. Firstly, the Audi R8 Grand-Am driver line-ups bolstered some notable names including DTM Series stars Felipe Albuquerque, Edoardo Mortara, Oliver Jarvis, Frank Biela and Markus Winkelhock who sport detailed resumes employed by the auto company. In addition, the APR Motorsport, Alex Job Racing and Rum Bum Racing were receiving other forms of aid throughout the weekend. During the race, pit crewmembers from the Audi Sport Team Joest operation were servicing at least one of the R8 Grand-Am cars. Face-to-face with the Porsche GT3 Cup, Chevrolet Camaro and Ferrari 458 machines in the GT category, the would competition perhaps realize prior to the green flag in qualifying Friday that the Audi R8 Grand-Am cars are planning to leave with Rolex watches (the victory trophy for the Rolex 24 at Daytona).
While a fleet of Porsches prevailed in qualifying, 24 hours around the 3.56-mile Daytona International Speedway’s road course would greatly play into the hands of the Audi R8 Grand-Am and its 5.2 liter V-10 engines. The mechanical problems that hindered the Audi R8 Grand-Am’s performance last year was nowhere to be found in 2013 competition. However, the lack of mechanical problems did not mean a runaway for the Audi R8 Grand-Am race cars. The #13 Rum Bum Racing, #24 Alex Job Racing and #52 APR Motorsport vehicles would each face time penalties for a range of incidents. For the #24 Audi R8 Grand-Am car, there was a 30-second time penalty levied following a spin by driver Edoardo Mortara. During the dawn of the morning sun, the #52 APR Motorsport R8 Grand-Am (shared by Ian Baas, Marc Basseng, René Rast and Frank Stippler) was hit by one of the faster Daytona Prototype machines.
Working hard against the setbacks through the 24-hour period, the Audi R8 Grand-Am race cars would prove too much for the other GT class competitions. At the checkered flag, the Alex Job Racing #24 Audi R8 Grand-Am car claimed class victory at Daytona. Consisting of the driving team of Edoardo Mortara, Dion von Moltke, Filipe Albuquerque, and Oliver Jarvis the #24 completed 678 laps and over 2,400 miles at Daytona to a roughly 1.5-second advantage over the #52 Audi R8 Grand-Am APR Motorsport car. Audi’s first victory at Daytona as well as their first Grand-Am Sports Car Series win, Alex Job Racing has been to GT class victory at the 24-hour race in 1999.
A one-two finish was the biggest achievement for the Audi teams competing at the 2013 Rolex 24 at Daytona. Honourable mention also goes to the two other Audi R8 Grand-Am cars that completed the full time distance in the Daytona sports car racing event. The #13 Rum Bum Racing Audi R8 featuring the driving partnership of Frank Biela, Christopher Haase, Matt Plumb and Markus Winkelhock finished seventh place in GT. The #51 Audi, a second campaigned by APR Motorsport, came home 12th in the GT class completing 668 laps. Matt Bell, David Empringham, John Farano, Alex Figge and Dave Lacey were teamed up in the #51 Audi R8 Grand-Am car.
As Audi continues to advance and compete with their prototype R18 e-tron Quattro race cars, the German premium carmaker is quickly starting to mobilize their produced-based racing program again. This year’s Rolex 24 at Daytona victory is the latest accolade for the production-based Audi R8. In the past 12-month period, the Audi R8 in the hands of several teams have been on a tear in worldwide endurance. Similarly prepped Audi R8 LMS have already won 24-hour races at the Spa-Francorchamps, Zolder and the Nurburgring.
Honouring the prototype R8 race car that instrumentally built Audi’s ongoing sports car racing dynasty, the production-based R8 is quickly constructing its own legacy.
Information and photo source: Audi AG, Grand Am
Propelling the Audi division to new heights of recognition in the luxury car class, the road-going version R8 supercar was just the ingredient needed for the German brand’s ultimate thrust into becoming a global player. After more than a decade where fans of the four-ring badge were begging to see quattro drive and Audi’s technologically driven engineering, the R8 Coupe’s introduction in 2007 was an instant hit. The rollout of the Audi R8 Spyder for 2010 as a 2011 model year only sweetened the decedent taste of the supercar. In truth sharing many components with the Italian-badged Lamborghini Gallardo, the Audi R8’s ability to create a distinct personality for itself has given it a fierce roar in the face of fellow home country rivals Porsche 911 and the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG. Tweaking their halo car for 2013, the Audi R8 package receives a gentle retuning.
Is it a reinvention of the Audi R8 supercar? No. In fact, the changes to the exterior are largely negligible to the 2012 model. A mild retouch to the front grille offers additional detail to the R8’s air intakes. The one major expression of advancement in 2013 is the range-wide implementation of the all-LED headlamps. The highly responsive lighting is also found towards the rear of the 2013 Audi R8 vehicles. A factory-installed carbon fiber front splitter is optional on the standard 2013 Audi R8 Coupe and Spyder models.
According to Audi announcement for their 2013 models of the R8 V8 versions, the standard wheels will be downgraded to 18-inches from 19 inches equipped on the 2012 car. The 19-inch wheels will be included on the V10 variants of the Audi R8 for 2013. The braking system on the vehicle has been reworked to reduce almost 4.5 pounds without sacrificing stopping performance.
For the performance of movement, the 430-horsepower 4.2 FSI V-8 and the 525-horsepower 5.2 liter V-10 powerplants return to availability in both the Coupe as well as the Spyder models of the Audi R8 for 2013. Trusted in transferring the 430-horsepower through the Audi R8 V8’s quattro all-wheel drive system will be a standard 6-speed manual gearbox. For 2013, a new 7-speed S tronic transmission has been added as optional on the V8 and standard on the V10 models of the Audi R8. Providing an additional gear over the previous S tronic gearbox found in the R8 supercar, the 7-speed allows darts from 0 to 62 miles per hour in just 3.6 seconds with the V10 Coupe.
The biggest addition in 2013 comes as a ‘plus’ to Audi R8 buyers. A 550-horsepower propelled top model, the new Audi R8 V10 plus model is almost the equal of the current R8 GT. In acceleration from 0 to 62 miles per hour, the Audi V10 plus model storms in 3.5 seconds with the 7-speed S tronic transmission. A 6-speed manual is also available with the V10 plus model sacrificing acceleration for a higher top speed of 198 miles per hour. The performance-loaded, 550-horsepower supercar package also includes carbon fiber front splitter, mirrors and for the engine compartment area. A specially tuned suspension system designed to help drivers master the Audi R8 plus while the occupants ride in sport bucket seats. The 2013 Audi R8 plus will only is available as a coupe. Inside, a Carbon Sigma inlays is standard on the Audi R8 plus with personalization options also in reach for owners allowing their supercar to specifically speak to individual tastes.
United States pricing for the 2013 Audi R8 line is yet to be announced.
Information, video and photo source: Audi AG
This weekend at Sebring International Raceway, the Audi Sport Team Joest prototype organization prepares for the start of the 2012 sports car racing season. Since entering the sports car prototype arena in 1999, Audi’s motorsport efforts have pushed the four-ring badge to the top of track competition while their street cars captured accolades with customers.
With worldwide sales recorded at a 625,807 total in 1999, Audi AG scored 1,303,650 in vehicle unit sales across the planet in 2011 as the German luxury car brand has risen to a serious force in automotive production. While some debate the impact of motorsports on the street vehicles, Audi’s loyal attention to the high-priced sports car competition has provided a better-than-average case proving the benefits of factory support for auto racing. For 2012, the sports car racing efforts in prototype racing Audi Sport Team Joest will present several changes as they will attempt victory on the race track as well as win customers to new, production car-related technology.
As the Audi R18 TDI will take the green flag for the 2012 Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, the Team Joest-fielded vehicles will be part of the newly formed FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC). Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich committed “It’ll be a grand and no doubt thrilling inaugural event of the new WEC. The entire fields of the WEC and the American Le Mans Series will be competing together. “ The 2012 WEC represents collection of great, modern sports car races assembling on the globe’s most prestigious race circuits. Included in the high profile first season for WEC will debut at Sebring International Raceway before moving onto the Spa Francorchamps road course and famous Circuit de la Sarthe for the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Audi Sport is committed to run every round with their R18 TDI prototypes throughout the inaugural eight-round competition.
Much of the pre-season excitement centered on the Audi prototype sports car program has been centered on the gasoline/electric hybrid version of the R18. Scheduled to run for the first time at the Belgium event in May, the Audi R18 e-tron quattro combines the mid-engine 3.7 liter V-6 TDI engine with an electric motor that will drive the front wheels. With rear wheels still being spun conventionally through TDI powerplant, the new prototype will bring a unique take on Audi’s much-touted quattro all-wheel drive. When Audi Sport Team Joest runs the 24 hours of Le Mans in mid-June, the plan is to run two hybrid cars within a four-car effort. For the Sebring race, Audi has prepared three non-hybrid R18 TDI prototype sports cars.
For the 12-hour event at Sebring, car #1 for Audi Sport Team Joest will feature the teaming of Marcel Fässler, André Lotterer and Benoît Tréluyer who won the 24 Hours of Le Mans for the team last year. In the #2 Audi R18 TDI, the accomplished group of Dindo Capello, Tom Kristensen and Allan McNish will attempt to rekindle the magic they used to collectively win the 2009 Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. Sharing the #3 car, Timo Bernhard, Romain Dumas and Loïc Duval will round out the highly talented 2012 driver line-up for Audi Sport Team Joest.
Audi Sport Team Joest will be seeking their 10th victory in the 12-hour race. From 2000 to 2007, Audi had affirmative possession of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring overall honours with the Audi R8 and R10 prototype race cars. Interrupted for claiming victory by a pair of Porsche RS Spyders in 2008, Audi did succeed in maintaining its streak of LMP1 class victory at the Sebring International Raceway for a total of nine consecutive races. Stretching the automaker’s records with a ninth overall Sebring race win in 2009, the Peugeot 908 has presided as the top prototype runner for the famous sports car event. With Peugeot opting out of the 2012 edition of the Mobil1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, the Audi R18 is heavily favoured for victory late Saturday night.
With preparations for the 60th running of the Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh from Florida ongoing this week, the clock for the half-day endurance race starts March 17th at 10:15 AM Eastern time.
Information source: American Le Mans Series, Audi AG
Photo and video Source: Audi AG