Category Archives: Audi

Audi R8 – Ingolstadt Ingenuity

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Note: While the R8 is still in production, this post covers 2007 through 2012 models. Additional variants will be covered at a later date.

Audi created the R8 to celebrate its success at the 24 Hours of Le Mans (13 wins since 2000) and introduce a competitor to the Porsche 911.

It is a very different sports car. Not because of its longitudinal, mid-engine layout. Not because of its V8 engine. But because it contains so many unique technologies, synthesizing the great strides that Audi made in the years since the fallout from the unfounded accusations leveled at its cars by a 60 Minutes report on unintended acceleration. I wouldn’t be surprised if a fistful of patents were granted for the design of this car.

To get an idea of the magnitude, think of the Audi’s aluminum spaceframe structure, all wheel drive, optional carbon ceramic brakes, direct injection engine, semi-automatic gearbox and magnetorheological suspension. Then blend those elements in a package capable of nearly 190 mph that has, by all accounts, the usability and comfort of a daily driver.

Surprisingly, despite the company’s long history in motorsport dating back to its pre-war (WWII that is) Auto Union days, Audi had never produced a sports car in the modern era. Sure, there was the Audi Quattro with its remarkable performance, but it was more of a rally car than a sports car. The R8 was  Audi’s foray into such territory.

Chassis

One of its differentiating elements is the extensive use of aluminum. Like Honda with its Acura NSX, Audi chose to employ aluminum throughout its flagship sports car, continuing the work it began with the 1997 Audi A8 sedan.

The production version was unveiled at the 2006 Paris Motor Show, a potent mix of German technology and Italian flair. VW Group, Audi’s parent company, acquired Lamborghini in 1998. As a result, the R8 and Lamborghini Gallardo share structural aluminum technology and a number of components, notably the all-wheel drive (AWD) system, transmission and, in certain models, the same V10 engine.
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24 Hours of Le Mans Review [SPOILER ALERT]

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The 2014 edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans is now in the books. One of the three top contenders won the race as expected… but a whole lot of other things happened too. Here’s the short, short version of  events:

LMP-1

Audi took the overall and LMP-1 win with a 1-2 finish, an amazing 13th victory in 16 attempts, though it was not without drama. The third Audi (#3) and #8 Toyota were involved in a crash in wet conditions about 90 minutes into the race. The Audi was unable to continue while the Toyota limped back to the pits and was in the garage for about 50 minutes to repair the damage.

The winning team consisted of Marcel Fassler, Andre Lotterer and Benoit Treluyer in their R18 etron quattro. Le Mans legend Tom Kristensen was part of the team that finished second in the sister Audi after the car experienced turbo problems. His teammates were Lucas Di Grassi and Marc Gene, both ex-F1 drivers.

Gene was called in at the last minute to replace Loic Duval, who was not cleared to race as a precaution following the massive practice crash on Wednesday from which he fortunately emerged largely unscathed.
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