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Audi unleashes R8 LMS GT3 on Paris. Image by Audi.

Audi unleashes R8 LMS GT3 on Paris
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What's the news?

The competition version of Audi's second-generation R8 has been rather successful, ever since it launched in 2015. In the hands of professional and amateur racing drivers around the planet, the R8 LMS - to give it the correct name - has picked up class wins, series titles and international endurance trophies with gleeful abandon. Wins have come in America, Australasia, Europe and Asia; more specifically, at venues as heralded as Bathurst, Daytona, Dubai, Laguna Seca, the Nürburgring, Sepang and Spa Francorchamps. It has also picked up various world championship titles, plus international success in the FIA GT World Cup and the Intercontinental GT Challenge.

But what about the monster in these pictures?

This is the evolution of the R8 LMS, branded the R8 LMS GT3. This represents the fourth customer racing model from Audi Sport in just four years, starting with the original LMS in '15 and then running through 2016's RS 3 LMS TCR touring car and the R8 LMS GT4 in 2017. Even though the previous versions of the R8 LMS have proven themselves winners time and again, Audi Sport's Customer Racing team is always looking to make improvements - and the GT3, revealed at the Paris Motor Show by Chris Reinke, head of Audi Sport Customer Racing, and Michael-Julius Renz, managing director of Audi Sport GmbH, is the evolution of the species. Reinke said the new model was tailored closely to the customer requirements regarding technology and operating costs, adding: "In developing the evolution of the car, we've put even greater focus on our customers and their needs. The pre-design stage for the second evolution of our current model generation centred on many discussions with our teams."

What has changed, then, for the R8 LMS GT3?

Well, you'll have to forgive us here, as we can only speak in fairly broad, generic terms - motorsport outfits are notoriously cagey about releasing exact specification details, in case rivals fancy adopting them on their GT racers. Thus, the R8 LMS GT3 has optimised aerodynamics and better cooling, as well as a more reliable drivetrain on which the clutch and transmission can go longer without needing servicing. All of these detail changes aim to make the R8 competition machine more durable and able to withstand large temperature ranges, which are key parts of endurance racing, while also proving a little more financially sound to run for teams on a tighter budget.

I bet people with an old R8 LMS are a bit narked, though, aren't they?

Probably not, no. Because Audi Sport Customer Racing says the GT3 kit can be retrofitted to existing Mk2 R8 LMS cars, for a cost of €28,000 plus VAT; that's around £30,000, at current exchange and UK VAT rates. If you've not already got an R8 LMS, but you fancy the GT3, then the entire machine will cost you €398,000 plus VAT (about £425,000) from Audi Sport. The first customer cars will be delivered in November, before they take to the track in anger in early 2019.

Matt Robinson - 2 Oct 2018

2019 Audi R8 LMS. Image by Audi.2019 Audi R8 LMS. Image by Audi.2019 Audi R8 LMS. Image by Audi.2019 Audi R8 LMS. Image by Audi.2019 Audi R8 LMS. Image by Audi.

2019 Audi R8 LMS. Image by Audi.2019 Audi R8 LMS. Image by Audi.2019 Audi R8 LMS. Image by Audi.2019 Audi R8 LMS. Image by Audi.2019 Audi R8 LMS. Image by Audi.    - Audi road tests
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