Successful test of the Audi R8 GRAND-AM
• New model for U.S. racing tested at Daytona
• Development driver Frank Stippler completes 1000 test kilometers
• Preparation of two vehicles for the 2012 Daytona 24 Hours
Ingolstadt, December 11, 2011 – The Audi R8 GRAND-AM successfully passed its
baptism by fire. The new model was fine-tuned at the Daytona race track (U.S.
state of Florida) during its final test on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Ready for the North American market: The development of the next customer sport
race car from Audi Sport customer racing has been completed. The car will be
delivered to the first customers by January. The new Audi R8 GRAND-AM is based on
the extremely successful Audi R8 LMS that has scored more than 110 victories and
13 titles. From this GT3 race car quattro GmbH developed a vehicle for the Grand
Touring class of the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series in the USA and subjected it
to final testing at Daytona.
After track tests in Europe the R8 GRAND-AM that features significant modifications
compared to the GT3 race car underwent its final test in the heart of the region
where it will be fielded in the future. On the two test days, Frank Stippler completed
about 1000 kilometers (600 miles) in the visually conspicuous test car from quattro
GmbH that sports a stars-and-stripes design. The famous Daytona International
Speedway in the U.S. state of Florida with its banked turns served to prepare for the
Daytona 24 Hours at which private racing customers will compete with the R8
GRAND AM on January 28th and 29th.
The Audi R8 GRAND-AM clearly differs from the GT3 “sister model” and required a
fundamentally new set-up. Downforce, for instance, is drastically lower. About 70 to
80 percent of aerodynamic grip is lost because the GRAND-AM regulations prescribe
modified body components. The new front splitter may only protrude from the front
contours by 38 millimeters, for example. The front underbody must have a flat
design. The rear diffusor corresponds to the production car component, while the
standardized rear wing is only 152 centimeters wide and thus 260 millimeters
slimmer than the rear wing of the R8 LMS. “The lower aerodynamic forces also
require modified damper characteristics and softer spring rates,” explains Armin
Plietsch, Head of Engineering Customer Sport at quattro GmbH. In addition, the
regulations prescribe a ride height of 65 millimeters – which is about 10 millimeters
more than the minimum in the FIA series.
At Daytona, Audi also familiarized itself with the tires from the series’ exclusive tire
supplier, Continental. The GTR (for road courses) and GTO (for oval tracks) tire
models influence suspension set-ups as well. ABS and traction control, which are
standard equipment on the Audi R8 LMS, had to be deactivated for the R8 GRANDAM.
The optimized radiator package that Audi developed for the R8 LMS ultra is also
used in the R8 GRAND-AM.
“We successfully tested all the modifications at Daytona,” says Romolo Liebchen,
Head of Customer Sport at quattro GmbH. “With Frank Stippler we developed a
sound and solid set-up for our customers and also gathered valuable findings in the
endurance tests. The durability of wearing parts and runs at high outside
temperatures meet challenging demands. We can now provide our racing customers
with concrete advice and reference values for fielding the car.”
The rating of the Audi R8 GRAND AM is still an open issue. By January, a balance of
performance is to be achieved between the various vehicles in the GT class. Audi has
made one of the 5.2-liter V10 FSI engines used in the Audi R8 GRAND-AM available
to the series’ engineers for a precise performance analysis. The engine’s power
output and homologation weight will only be defined once this rating is available.
One of the customer teams for the 2012 season has already been determined. APR
Motorsport from Opelika in the U.S. state of Alabama will be the first team to field
the Audi R8 GRAND-AM. The squad is planning to contest the Daytona 24 Hours and
the remainder of the races with its own driver combinations. Negotiations with
three other teams are currently in the closing stage. A maximum of four Audi R8
GRAND-AM cars will be delivered for the 2012 season to ensure individual support
and coordinated logistics. Audi of America is responsible for sales and support to
customers in North America.