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Widescreen Gallery: Audi R8 LMP1

Submitted by on January 21, 2020

by Marcel Hundscheid / Speed-O-Graphica

Enjoy an inside view of Audi’s multiple Le Mans winner, the R8 LMP1 Spyder, brought to you by Marcel Hundscheid.

Audi’s R8 Le Mans prototype is one of the most successful racing sports cars built, winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans back to back in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004 and 2005. The car was a development of the earlier Audi R8R, intended for the LMP900 class at Le Mans and the American Le Mans Series. Audi engineers Michael Pfadenhauer, Wolfgang Appel and Ulrich Baretzky were responsible for the very successful R8 LMP1. Pfadenhauer focused on the aerodynamics as Appel designed the carbon fiber and aluminum honeycomb monocoque. Ulrich Baretzky was responsible for the Audi 3.6 liter FSI 90° V8-twin turbo.

During the late nineties brands like BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Porsche and Toyota participated in the Le Mans 24 Hours. As one of the leading German car manufacturers, Audi was the big absentee.

As well as the World Endurance Championship and the Le Mans 24 Hours, the American Le Mans Series looked attractive for Audi. So, the marque decided to enter two 550 hp V8 turbo R8Rs at the 12 Hours of Sebring in 1999. The R8R finished 3rd during its inaugural race, with BMW grabbing the honours with their V12 LMR.

At the 1999 Le Mans 24 Hours Audi debuted a pair of R8Cs. In contrast to the Team Joest-entered R8Rs, the R8C couldn’t match the speed and suffered from mechanical issues. For 2000 Audi decided to build an new R8 Spyder in association with Joest and Dallara, and this new car would become one of the most successful prototypes ever built.

During the inaugural Le Mans 24 Hours for the new R8 Spyder Tom Kristensen, Emanuele Pirro and Frank Biela drove Audi Sport Infineon Team Joest to victory. The team’s other two cars, piloted by Laurent Aïello, Allan McNish and Stéphane Ortelli and Christian Abt, Michele Alboreto and Rinaldo Capello completed a clean sweep of the podium.

In the United States Audi dominated the American Le Mans Series with five consecutive wins. Audi retired the R8 with the introduction of the diesel-powered R10 TDi. Nowadays a pair of two Audi R8s from 2005 are often entered during historic racing events driven by Doug Smith and Travis Engen.

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