R8 By The Numbers - Updated
(July 2 2006
posted in October 2005)
Since its debut
in 2000 the Audi R8 has broken record after record, and with the
car’s days as the frontline weapon for Audi now over after
yet another ALMS race win (the R8's 50th in the Series) at Lime
Rock, it seems appropriate to look back at the record book.
Now, with grateful thanks to Martyn Pass of Audi Sport UK, we
can show just how dominant this extraordinary car has been for
over half a decade.
In that time
it has seen off factory led challenges from BMW, Cadillac, MG and
Panoz and has lifted titles in every full series in which it has
competed (ALMS, LMES, ELMS and of course the Le Mans 24 Hours)
Indeed the Audi
has been such a tough competitor that it has raised the profile
of any team (and there haven’t been many!) that has been able
to beat the car.
out of the 1999 Audi R8R and R8C programmes, the 2000 R8 was already
at the cutting edge of sportscar design: what it’s twin turbocharged
3.6 litre V8 lacked in aural excitement it more than made up with
in potency and, above all, reliability.
of a British company, Ricardo Engineering, in the design of the
R8 gave the car what amounted to an almost unfair advantage. The
swapable rear end, rear axle, six speed sequential gearbox and all,
suddenly transformed the business of 24 hour racing. The team’s
abilities to exploit this in swapping the rear end in as little
as four and a half minutes effectively turned an already pretty
bulletproof LMP car into a 24 hour sprinter.
With the introduction
of the FSI direct injection technology to the car, the R8 took a
further step forward, better fuel economy was suddenly another weapon
in it considerable armoury.
The quick change
rear end was eventually banned by the ACO as they attempted to level
the Le Mans playing field, but it didn’t stop the car from
regulatory changes limiting the rear aero surfaces, power and adding
weight, the cars have remained ultimately competitive over the longer
35 different drivers have taken the wheel of the R8 over a race
weekend and just over half have reached the top step of the podium
thanks to its now legendary blend of blinding speed, iron clad
strength and supreme reliability.
tops the winners chart with a total of 21, Dindo
Capello next up with 19, Tom Kristensen scores 17 and Emanuele
Pirro follows just behind with 16. JJ Lehto and Marco Werner
tied on fifth
14 wins apiece and Allan McNish has broken into double figures
too with a total of 12 wins.
The roll of
honour though extends much further than that – 11 others have
piloted the R8 to a race win: Aiello, Alboreto (2), Ara (3 including
the 2004 Le Mans 24 Hours), Davies (2), Herbert (8), Johansson,
Kaffer (4), Lemarie, Ortelli, Pescatori, and Peter.
The R8 has made
Le Mans winners of seven of its pilots with Tom Kristensen having
been aboard for all five of its wins at La Sarthe.
Race Starts, Wins and Podiums
all Audi R8s have started 177 times in international racing (in
79 individual races) and have come home on the podium an astonishing
been 63 victories amongst that tally, including of course a
wins at Le Mans since 2000, broken only by their VAG cousins at
Bentley in 2003 and an unbroken six year winning streak at Sebring.
The R8 is also
unbeaten at Road Atlanta (8 race wins), Road America (4), Lime
Rock (3), Silverstone (2) and Trois Rivieres (2)
And in terms of race dominance the Audi has been a consistent
thorn in the side of the competition.
R8s have completed 1-2 finishes on 23 occasions, 1-2-3 finishes
on a further 10 occasions and a clean sweep 1-2-3-4 finish at the
2001 12 hours of Sebring.
an Audi R8 has finished on the podium of every ALMS race contested
and indeed has only ever contested three races without posting
a podium finish. The this weekend for the #2 Champion Racing
car in the R8's final contemporary competitive outing completed
a magical 50 wins for the R8 in the ALMS.
Just to complete
the picture, R8s have set pole positions on 48 occasions and fastest
race laps 59 times.
13 different R8 chassis have won races (with thanks to
Martin Krejci for filling in a couple of gaps).
is the top of the heap with 16 wins over a five season period (more
than double the wins of its nearest rival, its first being the 2001
Dallas ALMS race with Team Joest and the latest, the car now with
Champion, the 2005 ALMS race at Road America). The 2001 12 Hours
of Sebring and the 2003 Petit Le Mans both fell to this grand, and
not so old, lady.
2001 and 2002
saw the R8 at the very height of its powers, each of those years
seeing the R8 lose out on at least a 1-2 finish just three times.
factory-blessed Team Joest of course dominated the R8’s history
but there have been successes for every single team that has campaigned
this chart with a total of 31 race wins from 2000-2003 with
next up, a proud 21 race wins for the US team from 2003-2006.
Audi UK Team Veloqx posted five wins in its 2004 season, with Kazumichi
Goh’s squad grabbing a total of three race wins.
been a win apiece for ORECA and Arena: the British team of course
has had two bites at the R8 cherry, with the first campaign netting
a win for the Gulf liveried R8 in the ELMS, but the later campaign
with the British Racing Green trimmed car was less successful.
No customer team therefore has failed to win a race in an Audi
The Bad Times
There have been very few bad days in the Audi R8 story.
was a firm favourite with the fans and with Team Joest personnel.
A Sebring win in 2001 was the highlight of what would have surely
become a long Audi career. April 26 2001 though saw a tragic accident
bring down the curtain on his career, when the R8 he was testing
at the Lausitzring suffered a sudden tyre failure and pitched the
car into a roll.
With that sole
exception, the R8 has looked after its pilots extraordinarily well.
The cars have
regularly finished races after surviving accidents that would have
left any other racecar steaming in an escape road. Who can forget
the double R8 accident at the 2004 Le Mans 24 Hour race, which left
the #2 Champion and #8 Audi UK cars badly damaged. The cars both
finished the race though and the #2 car even made the podium!
In fact out
of the 177 race appearances from an R8, just 14 have resulted
retirement and not a single one of them has been caused by a failure
in the engine compartment. Accident damage has resulted in a
of 9 'DNFs', electrical problems and clutch failure a further two
each and poor Frank Biela’s missed pit stop in the 2003
Le Mans 24 Hours caused the sole retirement for an R8 owing
shortage. It’s worth adding also that in half of the races
where an R8 retired another Audi ha gone on to win!
It is only now
that the R8 is finally battling from a position of anything other
than dominance. Weight and power penalties have more than evened
the odds in favour of the Audi’s tormentors, and both the
MG Lolas and Zyteks have now found themselves able to compete more
effectively than ever before.
The only cars
and teams to have prevented the R8 from taking a win have been
factory Panoz team, five times between 2000 and 2002, Dyson Racing
four times between 2003 and 2005, Zytek Engineering (bizarrely
the hands of a previous R8 customer team, Arena Motorsport) three
times in 2005, Team Bentley at the Le Mans 24 Hours in 2003,
The penske Porsche RS Spyder at Mid Ohio and,
a pair of freak results, RML’s Saleen at the Estoril ELMS
round in 2001 (where the Arena run R8 was knocked out of the race
by the Pescarolo Courage) (edit - the Courage was reinstated
after an appeal and won the race!) and a factory backed Toyota
Supra in the 2002 Suzuka 500kms, which profited when the Team
R8 suffered an electrical failure.
The Glory Years
Saw the debut of the R8 at Sebring, the car posting a debut
win - before the old R8R was brought back to the ALMS campaign,
whilst an intensive test programme was brought to bear on the new
car to prepare it for the Le Mans 24 Hours. The programme evidently
worked, the factory team posting a 1-2-3 finish.
was a minor hiccup when the factory Panoz squad won at a very rainy
Nurburgring (with the factory BMW forcing the Audi into third spot),
from there on in the R8 was unbeaten for the remainder of the ALMS
season, Audi Sport North America and Allan McNish taking teams'
and drivers' championships respectively.
dominant year in the ALMS from the Joest-manned Audi Sport North
America netted a repeat team championship for the squad whilst Emanuele
Pirro took the drivers honours.
In Europe Joest
took the ELMS win at Donington Park before Arena’s Gulf liveried
car took the fight to the Pescarolo Courage in what proved to be
an undersubscribed series. An accident between the two at Estoril
gave the win to the RML Saleen, but the Gulf car took the win at
Most in a part season’s campaign which still netted Stefan
Johansson the LMP900 crown.
though the Audis had made it two in a row at Le Mans, despite appalling
weather (which in part explained the retirement from the race of
the customer Arena and Champion R8s), the factory team posting another
A hard fought season between the Audi Sport North America
team and the customer Champion Racing squad ended in a hat trick
of wins for the factory team. Tom Kristensen took the drivers title.
Le Mans saw the factory team complete another hat trick, the Team
Goh car coming in fifth.
was closer still in the ALMS with the title only settled at the
final race in favour of – you’ve guessed it, Audi Sport
North America, just seven points separating the two in both team
and drivers championships, Biela and Werner taking the honours.
Le Mans though
saw the Audi train derailed – Team Joest personnel were a
conspicuous presence in the Bentley pits. The two British Racing
Green cars capped a three year programme for the VAG stablemates
with a 1-2 finish, the final podium being claimed by Champion Racing.
The Audis though had humbled the new kids on the block at Sebring.
Back in Europe,
Team Goh took a pair of wins with the team owner’s second
chassis, first at Spa in the R8's one and only appearance in the
doomed FIASCC (In the colours of Audi Belgium) and then at the Bugatti
circuit, at the preview race for the LMES.
The ALMS saw an uninterrupted five year title freight train
completed by Champion Racing, JJ Lehto taking the drivers title
alongside now two time winner Marco Werner: just a single win from
the #16 Dyson MG Lola broke a chain of wins.
It was Audi
Japan Team Goh that took the win at Le Mans, the first from a customer
Audi team, whilst Sam Li’s Audi UK Team Veloqx took the inaugural
LMES title, winning all four races with the pair of R8s, and netting
the drivers title for Jamie Davies and Johnny Herbert. It was this
pair that took the 50th win for the R8 at the title clinching Spa
with the deck stacked against them, Champion Racing swept all before
them, with drivers and team championships in the ALMS and a famous
win in the Le Mans 24 hours.
In Europe, Hugues
de Chaunac’s ORECA squad added French blue to the Audi colour
palate and saw Stephane Ortelli and Allan McNish add to the R8’s
win tally, despite extreme pressure from Creation and Zytek Engineering,
and the quick hybridised Pescarolo.
unexpected return to ALMS service saw a single R8 entered in the
three ALMS races following Sebring, as the Audi factory prepared
the new diesel R10s for Le Mans. It was a tale of yet more success
- Dindo Capello and Allan McNish taking a further pair of wins (Houston
and Lime Rock) together with a podium at Mid Ohio. Thus the R8 retires
very much on top of it's game, the last race featuring a unique
livery detailing the drivers and the circuits that have seen R8s
take top honours - It took fairly small type to fit it onto the
selected bodywork sections!
ever see the like of the R8's dominance again?
Well who is
to say that Audi’s replacement won’t ‘do the double’?
It seems though with Porsche, Peugeot, Zytek, Lola and Courage stepping
up to the plate, that the replacement will be facing a whole new
set of challenges.