Since making its Australian debut in 2011, the Audi R8 has proved a force at the front end of Australian GT competition.
Across the Australian GT Championship, the Australian Endurance Championship and the Australian GT Trophy Series, the German marque has picked up a staggering 25 wins since Mark Eddy handed the four-ringed brand its maiden win here at Winton all those years ago.
Audi’s racing programme ‘down under’ is operated by Audi Sport Customer Racing Australia, based out of Melbourne. From there, they support more than 20 cars across Australia and New Zealand, and have been behind every one of Audis victories in Australian GT.
That includes last year’s one-two result in the Australian GT Trophy Series, which saw Rob Smith hold out teammate Greg Taylor to the crown by just six points. The Audi pair scored more than double the points of their closest rival, picking up six wins along the way.
The 2017 season has started much the same way, with Rod Salmon and Steve McLaughlan sharing the spoils at the opening round at Sandown in April.
Audi first released the R8 in 2006 as a two-seater road car, whilst the first GT3 specification example rolled off the production line in 2009—a car named the Audi R8 LMS. A year later, Eddy debuted the car in Australia before going on to claim victory at Winton the following season.
Powering the car is a 5.2-litre 10-cylinder, normally aspirated engine sporting double overhead cams and 4-valves per cylinder. It pumps out in the region of 500bhp in race trim, with almost enough torque to slow the Earth’s rotation. Fitted directly behind the driver, in the centre of the car, the layout gives near perfect weight distribution.
Under the carbon fibre and alloy skin is a tubular spaceframe chassis, almost identical to that found in the standard road-going version of the R8. There are ceramic disc brakes too, along with driver aids like ABS and traction control.
The original car proved wildly successful, chalking up more than 100 victories globally along with a dozen championships. More have been added since the car was superseded at the end of 2011, most notably last season in the hands of Smith and Taylor.
A new model was released for 2012, the Audi R8 Ultra, which also proved a race winner. Rod Salmon and Liam Talbot won the inaugural race at Highlands at the end of 2012 in Australia’s first example; it’s the same car Salmon will pilot this weekend as the Australian GT Trophy Series hits Winton Raceway for its second round of 2017.
The Audi R8 Ultra shares much in common with the LMS, though does boast a more powerful 10-cylinder engine. There were a number of subtle aerodynamic tweaks as well, most notably a larger rear wing.
In Australia, the Audi R8 Ultra has claimed a staggering 15 race wins, making it the fourth most successful car in Australian GT history behind the Porsche 911, Mercedes-AMG SLS GT3 and Lamborghini Gallardo.
However, with two wins already to its name in 2017 it’s a car whose record-breaking legacy is still being written.
Audi’s winning timeline
2011: Audi’s first win in Australian GT
2013: Audi R8 Ultra’s first win in Australian GT