Audi Sport is seriously considering creating a hardcore R8, a proper rival to Porsche’s 911 GT3. In a discussion with PistonHeads, Oliver Hoffman, Audi Sport’s Head of Technical Development, revealed that there is an appetite from R8 customers for a more extreme looking car. More aggressive even than the R8’s most recent facelift and one that takes inspiration from R8 LMS GT3, Audi Sport’s race car and the winner of last weekend’s Nurburgring 24.
‘We have some good ideas for a more extreme R8 as we know the powerful exterior design of our racing car is amazing - people want to drive this on the street.’
It’s not just the styling of the GT3 racer that might work its way onto a road car, feedback from the R8 LMS GT3 drivers may help dictate how a more focussed R8 will drive. Frank Stippler, part of the four-strong team who won the 2019 Nurburgring 24, not only races an R8 but is also Audi Sports’ Nurburgring development driver. Hoffman divulged that Stippler is ‘doing a lot of work with [Audi] road cars regarding suspension and brakes.’
Just like the R8 LMS race car, a 911 GT3-rivalling R8 is likely to be rear-wheel drive rather than having Audi’s trademark quattro four-wheel drive system. It wouldn’t be the first R8 to go down this route, of course, the RWS from 2018 was purely rear-wheel drive, too. The success of the RWS has helped garner support for another road-going, hardcore R8 within Audi. Hoffman revealed that it is ‘pedestrian safety regulations’ that is currently the biggest hurdle to overcome.
If Audi does create an R8 to take on AMG’s GT R, Porsche’s 911 GT3 and McLaren’s 600LT, one element that won’t be altered much is the car’s 5.2-litre, naturally-aspirated V10. Hoffman said, ‘The racing car engine is almost identical to the road car’s, so that’s already proven.’
No extra power for a road-racer R8 is hardly an issue. Not only is 612bhp and 428lb ft more than significant, and a rev limit of 8500rpm exciting enough, cars like the 911 GT3 simply aren’t about huge power figures. Instead, they’re about feel, a more focuses chassis bristling with feedback and a sharper take-no-fools balance that delivers significantly greater rewards.