Want to know which is the most hardcore model Audi makes? That would, without a doubt, be the R8 LMS – the GT3 racing version of Ingolstadt’s mid-engined supercar. And it just revealed a new version here at the 2018 Paris Auto Show.
A further evolution of the customer racing car Audi Sport has been making since 2015, the updated R8 LMS features a wide range of enhancements aimed to keep it out ahead of the competition on tracks around the world.
As you can see, that includes substantial aerodynamic improvements aimed not only at increasing downforce and decreasing drag, but also providing better cooling to the brakes.
The small design changes up front are expected to be featured in the road-going version of the Audi R8 facelift as well, as the German company has been out testing a few prototypes for quite some time now.
The engine remains essentially unchanged: a 5.2-liter naturally aspirated V10 capable of producing as much as 585 horsepower (430 kW) and upwards of 405 lb-ft (550 Nm) of torque. Such are the strict standards with which the R8 LMS and its competitors have to comply. But the six-speed sequential transmission, three-plate racing clutch, and locking differential have been extensively revised to provide increased performance while reducing the effects of wear over the course of the grueling endurance races to which these vehicles are often subjected.
Safety has also been increased surpass the level mandated by the FIA for GT3 racing and meet the standards for Le Mans prototypes (like the R18 that Audi fielded at the top level until 2016). And despite all the improved equipment, the new R8 LMS is actually 55 pounds (25 kilograms) lighter than the first-generation model employed until now – all the while increasing torsional stiffness by an impressive 39 percent.
Want to get your hands on one? It’ll cost you a substantial €398,000, before taxes – or about $459k at current exchange rates. But teams already in possession of the existing model for €28,000 (~$33k). Deliveries will commence in January once homologation is completed, after which you can expect to see the evolved R8 LMS challenging for checkered flags and podiums in series like the FIA GT World Cup, ADAC GT Masters, Blancpain GT Series, and IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, to name just a few of the racing series in which it will be eligible to compete next year.