Audi R18 e-tron quattro Up for Grabs

Audi R18 e-tron quattro

This 2015 R18 e-tron quattro represents the bleeding edge of Audi’s endurance racing tech at the time.

While corporate cousin Porsche remains the manufacturer with the most victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, no marque has dominated the modern era like Audi. In addition to Audi Sport’s three consecutive victories in 2000, 2001, and 2002, it proved nearly unstoppable between 2004 and 2014. Only a loss to home team Peugeot in 2009 kept the Four Rings squad from cementing a decade of dominance. Now, one well-heeled buyer has an opportunity to own a piece of motorsport history, in the form of a 2015 Audi R18 e-tron quattro.

To be clear, the example currently listed by specialist dealer Joe Macari didn’t campaign at the legendary French endurance race. But it did see action at the 2015 runnings of the 6 Hours of Fuji, the 6 Hours of Shanghai, and the 6 Hours of Bahrain. Over the course of its career, it never achieved a podium finish, but with fourth place finishes at Shanghai and Bahrain, it came tantalizingly close.  As the livery attests, it was also driven by current Formula E driver Lucas di Grassi, 24 Hours of Daytona winner Oliver Jarvis, and Loïc Duval, who brought another R18 across the line to win Le Mans in 2013.

This vehicle is chassis number 416, and the price — as you can probably imagine — is available only upon request. The rear wheels are powered by a 550-horsepower 4.0-liter V6 TDI, and the front wheels are driven by a 268-horsepower all electric motor.  According to the listing, the R18 benefited from improved fuel efficiency, a more robust cooling system, and aerodynamic improvements over it’s predecessor, the R15. Obviously, that’s the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the go-fast bits this weapons grade endurance racer is packing, as it represents the bleeding edge of Audi’s racing technology at the time.

Now, as cool as this machine is, what’s even more exciting is the fact that Audi is coming back to Le Mans. Almost exactly a year ago, Audi announced it had decided on a chassis partner and an engine concept. And if the timeline Audi Sport director Andreas Roos mentioned at that time is accurate, the testing is already well underway. Hopefully we’ll get more info on the new racer soon, but between this car and the just-announced Formula 1 program, the next few years are going to be exciting for Audi race fans!

Photos: Joe Macari

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It’s Official: Audi is Coming to Formula 1

Audi Formula 1

Right now, fans of the Four Rings still have more questions than answers — but Audi is headed to Formula 1.

Late last year, AudiWorld posted that Ingolstadt was poised to announce a Formula 1 program. Well, in the months since, things have been relatively quiet on the F1 front. But today, Volkswagen Chief Executive Herbert Diess made it official, telling Reuters that both Porsche and Audi are headed to the pinnacle of motorsport. Here’s some relevant bits from our friends at the international news agency:

Discussions by the board of directors about the two brands’ plans had created some divisions, said Diess at an event in Wolfsburg, where the German carmaker is headquartered.

Diess said on Monday that Porsche’s preparations for entering Formula One were a little more concrete than Audi’s.

Audi is ready to offer around 500 million euros ($556.3 million) for British luxury sports carmaker McLaren as a means to enter, a source told Reuters in March, while Porsche intends to establish a long-term partnership with racing team Red Bull starting in several years’ time.

Oh, to be a fly on the wall at the meeting where the “divisions” between the two brands were aired! That had to be one hell of a discussion, because the decision means that not only will Audi and Porsche be going up against the rest of the grid — they’ll be competing against each other in a multi-million dollar game of family feud. Why on earth that idea wasn’t nipped in the bud is anyone’s guess, but it does speak to fantastic visibility that running in the series provides.

At this point, we still have more questions than answers about what each of the Volkswagen Group’s teams will look like. And while there are sure to be more details trickling out in the coming months, forthcoming engine regulations mean we won’t see an Audi or Porsche-branded car on the grid until the 2026 season. Until then, fans will have to make due with watching what’s already been one of the most exciting seasons in ages.

Because after years of domination, Lewis Hamilton and the Mercedes team have fallen off the pace. The seven-time world champion has struggled mightily this year, and is currently seventh in the points standings. In a shocking development, his teammate George Russel has be consistently upstaging the champion, and currently sits forth in the standings, behind Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc,  Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, and McLaren’s Lando Norris. The next race is set for this Sunday in Miami — on a new street course that’s sure to create drama. Stay tuned for more news on Audi’s entry into Formula 1!

Photos: Audi

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Wicked Audi R8 Hillclimb Car has 2.0-Liter Engine

Audi R8 Hillclimb Car

Adding displacement is great. But as Lotus founder Colin Chapman knew, subtracting weight can be an equally potent trick.

In American enthusiast circles, it’s popular to talk about how there’s no replacement for displacement. And while Ma Mopar has basically made an entire company based around jamming the biggest engine possible into everything it makes, displacement isn’t the only way to make speed. As Lotus founder Colin Chapman knew, subtracting weight can be an equally potently recipe. That’s the strategy Keith Murray employed with his Audi R8 hillclimb car — and the results are nothing short of spectacular.

In place of the the eight or ten pot Ingolstadt installed at the factory, in this featherweight, power comes from a heinously stoked 2.0-liter mill. As the description on YouTube states, the unit is “sort of an hybrid between the 2.0 L ALT 20v aluminum block with a 16v ABF head from a Mk3 Golf,” and thanks to a Garret HTA turbo, the force-fed engine is producing a whopping 650 horsepower. For the record, that’s about 50 more than any flavor of the R8 pumps out in factory spec, even if the engine note isn’t as robust.

The best part of the engine swap, of course, is the weight savings, and as you’d expect, it was tremendous. All told, this purpose-built beast tips the scales at just over 2,100 pounds, which is crazy considering that stock versions of the supercar range from 3,594 to 3,913 pounds. Having driven the R8, and experienced warp speed of launch control, I can’t even fathom have frightfully quick this machine must feel, and watching Murray rip up the circuit at Osnabruck Bergrennen is pure joy. This baby looks like a slot car!

Of course, the dyno runs at the start of the clip are there own flavor of awesome, and it’s wild to see just how little room that 2.0-liter motor takes up in the engine bay. Unfortunately, this car hasn’t raced since 2019, but given the amount of work that went into the build, and the fact that the world — knock on wood — seems to be getting somewhat back to normal, I’d expect we’ll see lots more of it in the future. So what do you think? Is swapped R8 a sacrilege or a masterpiece. Hit me up and let me know!

Photos: YouTube

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MotoGP Legend Valentino Rossi Joins Team WRT for 2022

Valentino Rossi and Team WRT R8

Rossi retired from MotoGP at the end of the 2021 season, but made no secret of his desire to keep racing.

In the two-wheeled world, Valentino Rossi needs no introduction. During his legendary career, the Italian MotoGP superstar won an astonishing nine Grand Prix world championships, and ushered in a new era of motorcycle racing’s premier class. Rossi retired from two-wheeled competition at the end of the 2021 season, but he made no secret of his desire to keep racing, and now we know he’s headed to Team WRT, where he’ll pilot an Audi R8 in the GT World Challenge Europe. Here’s his full statement about the move:

I am delighted to join Team WRT for a full Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS programme. Everybody knows that I have always been a great car racing fan and that I have always been interested in racing on four wheels once my MotoGP career would come to an end. Now I am completely available to devote myself to a car racing program at a high level and with the right professional approach. Team WRT is the perfect fit I was looking for and I am anxious to start this new adventure in the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS with them.     

Given his celebrated status in the world of motorsport, this is unquestionably a huge get for Team WRT, and as a longtime fan of Rossi, I’m excited to see how his skills translate after adding an additional pair of wheels.

As of last month, he was already testing the Audi R8 LMS GT3 which WRT will run this season, so announcement comes as little surprise. In a nod to his past success on the track, his car will bear the number 46, which he has sported his entire career. Interestingly, that number has not been retired from MotoGP — though it’d take one hell of set of stones to put it on a race bike.

Official test days for 2022 GT World Challenge Series Europe kick off March 8th at the Circuit Paul Ricard in France, and the first race is set for one month later, at Monza in Italy. How exactly how Rossi and his teammates — which will include factory Audi drivers — will fare this season remains to be seen. But “The Doctor’s” presence in the pits is sure to create some excitement for the series, particularly in his home country. Until then, check out the video below to watch some of the best moments from Rossi’s extraordinary MotoGP career!


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Audi RS Q e-tron Makes History at Dakar 2022

Audi RS Q e-tron Dakar 2022

Victory of Stage 3 of Dakar 2022 marks the first time a hybrid vehicle has triumphed at the legendary rally.

The 2022 Dakar Rally hasn’t gone exactly as planned for Audi Sport. But while the race is only about half over, the team has already made history. Because four days into the race, driver Carlos Sainz and co-driver Lucas Cruz brought their RS Q e-tron in ahead of all the competition. That marked the first time that a hybrid-electric car has won a stage during the legendarily grueling test of man and machine. Make no mistake — this isn’t just a watershed moment for Audi, or the Dakar, but the world of racing as a whole.

To be clear, the RS Q e-tron isn’t a fully electric vehicle, as it features a small internal combustion motor to charge the batteries when plugging in would prove impossible. That said, given the resources that Audi is dedicating toward electric development, and the pace at which battery technology is developing, an all-electric Dakar rig might not be all that far off. So don’t be surprised if you see Dakar veteran and Audi partner Ken Block behind the wheel of a green machine in the next few years.

Unfortunately, an overall victory in 2022 isn’t in the cards. On the first stage, Audi driver and 14-time Dakar champ Stéphane Peterhansel hit a rock which took out not only one of his wheels, but a decent chuck of the rear suspension. While that’s the kind of thing that can happen when you’re racing for 5,000 miles through the desert, the time spent sitting on the trail means the time off the lead will be all but impossible to overcome.

More frustrating than the crash, however, was a confusing roadbook that left his teammates Sainz and Cruz lost for a whopping two hours. In fairness, they weren’t the only car that wound up off the course, but since Audi declined to file a grievance with race control, the standings will reflect the unfortunate detour. That said? While it would have been amazing to win overall on the e-tron’s first effort, it was always a longshot, and Audi will undoubtedly learn plenty about its innovative powertrain over the course of the race.

Photos: Audi

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