GT Racing is set for a bit of a shakeup in 2020 with the introduction of a GT2 class. However, nothing is as simple as it should be in the world of motorsport, so GT2 cars will fill the current gap between GT3 and GT4. Anyone else getting the feeling they should have gone with a different name?
Anyway, the wonderful-looking R8 racer that you see above (and can see in the flesh at the Goodwood Festival of Speed) is Audi’s customer car for the new regulations – the R8 LMS GT2. Just to confuse things even more though, its naturally aspirated 5.2-litre V10 puts out 640bhp – that’s 140bhp more than is allowed in the supposedly quicker GT3 class. We need a lie down.
Thanks to weight/gearbox/aero trickery, Audi says that although the new car will have a higher top speed, its GT3 will still be quicker around a full lap of a circuit. They also note that GT3 has become alarmingly expensive and professional, whereas this car will cater for the ‘gentleman (or woman) racer’ or perhaps for somebody who just wants a really rather special track day toy.
So, let’s get to the details. The LMS GT2 is still based on the production R8, but there are CFRP panels and winglets all over the shop, as well as full racing suspension. The power jump comes from an engine management upgrade and that fantastic roof scoop, which creates a ram-air intake effect. Lovely.
Inside, there’s the obligatory FIA-spec roll cage and a button-filled centre console that has come straight out of the 1990s. It’s stripped out too – dry weight is 1,350kg, or 100kg less than the GT4 car.
Will we see a road-legal version? “We have some good ideas for more extreme models of the R8,” Audi Sport boss Oliver Hoffman told Top Gear recently. “Developing the R8 road and race cars in parallel was a great experience for both sides,” he said, referring to the GT3 version, before hinting that more rear-drive R8 road cars lie on the horizon.
For now, though, you can just buy this racecar. Every customer racing car needs a price, and Audi’s is a rather reasonable (given the current climate) €338,000 plus VAT (RM1.6 million). Hmmm, we’ll take one in the wild launch colour, thanks Audi. Grab your lids, Team TG.