Although the fact that Audi Sport recently began delivering its GT3-class R8 LMS customer cars to private teams across Europe is encouraging enough to race fans, the teams may be more interested in the fact that the company is on the cusp of launching an improved car -- the R8 LMS Evolution.
“During our evolution project, we primarily focused on service life and maintenance-friendliness,” said Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, head of Audi’s Motorsport operations. “All the experience we gathered last season with the help of our partners has been fed into the Evolution version. We’re convinced we’re handing over a reliable and easy-to-handle vehicle that embodies the quality standards of the Audi brand.” As the suffix suggests, the changes made to the R8 LMS Evo are evolutionary, not revolutionary. The car reportedly receives some chassis and suspension upgrades, while the electronic and exhaust systems are “optimized for use in racing.” Audi Sport also improved the cooling system for endurance racing, while improving the six-speed gearbox (wearable parts can be inspected through an opening, instead of removing the entire transmission). United Autosports, an American-owned race team based in England, was the first to receive the new R8 Evo, but those who ran the R8 LMS last year will be able to upgrade their cars to Evo spec by purchasing an add-on kit from Audi Sport. Teams interested in ordering an R8 LMS Evolution can do so now for nearly $406,000 per car, but as the entire 2010 production run has been spoken for, they’ll need to wait until the end of the year to receive a 2011 model.