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R8 to exchange quattro for RWD?

2010-03-17 07:51

Rear-wheel drive. Naturally aspirated V8 power. Plenty of carbon-fibre bits. This R8 is not built for posing. Soon you might get to stick a number plate on the front too…

Vehicle Specs
Manufacturer Audi
Model R8 GT3
Engine 4.2l V8
Audi’s R8 supercar could soon be available in rear-wheel drive after the success of its GT3 specification race car.

When Audi set about the FIA European GT championship last year it was optimistic. Porsche’s 911 GT3 has been a dominant track machine in GT racing for years though. Surprisingly, Audi won the championship.

In an attempt to translate this track success to commercial gain, Ingolstadt is now considering a no-compromise road-going version of its latest track racing star.

Family fight

The marketing rationale behind a road-going R8 GT3 would be very much in-line with Porsche’s GT3 production cycle – where a new GT3 derivative is launched practically each year, enabling Porsche to turn a premium profit opportunity on negligible development work…

To this end Audi’s R8 project leader, Armin Kappler, has built a single road-going R8 GT3 to test the concept.

Allegedly VW Group boss Ferdinand Piech is quite taken up with the idea – and what Ferdinand likes, inevitably gets built. Remember, this is the guy who signed off the Bugatti Veyron...

Tarmac scraping front splitter, bonnet aero-duct cut outs and huge rear wing distinguishes the GT3 from its R8 road-car siblings...

No quattro?

Perhaps the most notable consequence of a road-going R8 GT3 will be its effect on Audi quattro branding.

The race car is rear-wheel drive (due to regulations) and any road-cars will follow suit, which could put Audi in a peculiar position as its fastest road-going car may well be two-wheel drive in a few years time.

On the grid R8 GT3 produces 370kW from its 4.2l V8 engine, although this will be trimmed down for road-use due to induction and gas-exchange modifications to bring it in-line with emission and noise regulations.

A figure around 350kW (RS5 produces 335kW from the selfsame engine) would appear entirely probable for the R8 GT3 road-car…

Beyond the rear-wheel drive configuration another significant difference between a R8 GT3 road-car and other R8s would be its six-speed sequential transmission instead of a dual-clutch set-up, which is championed by all other Audi performance cars.

Considering the R8 is now midway through its product lifecycle we’d postulate the possibility of a road-going R8 GT3 coming to market next year as a strong possibility. If one considers there are around 50 R8 GT3 racing cars set for delivery this season, one could say Audi's nearly tooled-up for volumes justifying limited series road car production.

If a road car version of R8 GT3 does come to fruition, it will surely make for a bitter sibling rivalry with Porsche’s GT3 range…We just hope they retain that rear wing.


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