Automakers may never produce race cars at the same pace they do road cars, but the Volkswagen Group has made a brisk business of selling competition machinery. That includes Audi, which has already produced 50 examples of the new R8 LMS GT4.
Unveiled almost a year ago at the New York Auto Show, the new LMS model serves as the entry point in Audi Sport’s customer racing lineup. It’s based closely on the road-going R8, but is modified for the production-based GT4 category.
Even more so than the GT3 model, the new GT4 shares some 60 percent of its components with the production model. It’s even powered by the same 5.2-liter V10 engine and seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. But it has a different suspension, aero kit, rolling stock, and cockpit (among other elements) catered towards competition duty.
Audi started producing them along the same assembly line as the street-legal R8 at its Böllinger Höfe plant in Germany just a few months ago, rolling them out at a rate of one each day. This out of the 8-15 (or as many as 29) total R8s the factory produces on a daily basis. The automaker delivered the first dozen examples to its customer racing teams in December, and by now has produced 50 of them.
“We take pride in this achievement of being able to build the race car in such close combination with the production model,” said Audi Sport production head Wolfgang Schanz. “We offer the ready-to-race model at a price below 200,000 euros,” added customer racing chief Chris Reinke. “In return, the teams receive a new race car in premium quality, as the one-two class win of the Audi R8 LMS GT4 by customer team Phoenix Racing in the 24-hour race in Dubai in January proved.”
In addition to the GT3 and GT4 versions of the R8 LMS, Audi also offers the TCR-spec RS3 LMS. Volkswagen similarly offers the Polo GTI R5 rally car and Golf GTI TCR tin-top racer for customer racing teams. Skoda and Seat/Cupra similarly offer the Fabia R5 and Leon TCR, while Lamborghini and Bentley produce GT3 versions of their Huracan and Continental GT. The largest producer of racing cars in the world, however, is Porsche, which offers the 911 GT3 Cup and GT3 R, though the Cayman GT4 Clubsport has been put on hiatus pending the arrival of the all-new model.