In the past of motoring, there was virtually no difference between road and racecars. You donned your leather jacket and goggles, drove your open-top Bentley or Bugatti to the track, competed against your opponents and drove home again.
The Jaguar C- and D-Types that won Le Mans in the 1950s, as an example, were driven from Coventry to the raced, driven and track home. Other than the dedicated F2 and F1 racecars that arrived on trailers, this was how sportscar racing remained till theEven though supercar manufacturers would like to think their machinery is as adept on the racetrack as it is on Main Street, any car designed to pamper to wealthy owners is, by definition, compromised. Meeting road emission and safety laws, providing creature comforts like electric seats, A/C and infotainment will keep today’s drivers happy but add complexity and weight.
Out of the box, the typical modern sports car is carrying approximately 600 lb more than a similar racecar, and the ride height is set to clear obstacles that will limit the usage of ground effect aerodynamics around the track. Consequently, no road-going supercar can match a genuine racecar, regardless of whether it has more power.With this thought, instead of going down the normal route of attempting to make an Audi R8 be more effective at track days, Roland Mayer, owner of Motoren Technik Mayer GmbH (MTM) in Wettstetten, Germany, made a decision to turn the argument on its head and make a real racecar street legal. Audi offers the R8 Clubsport for track days, which is founded on the R8 GT road car. But we chose to approach it from the other direction and acquire street homologation for the R8 LMS racecar. We can do this because we’re a certified car manufacturer in Germany, he explained fortunately.
We based the car on an FIA GT3-spec R8 LMS that we campaigned in the International Sprint GT Series, which is one of the DTM support races, Roland said. The motor is showroom stock, and limited to 550hp by an air restrictor. It normally operates on 18 BBS centrerlock wheels but, for the street, we use 18 front and 19 rear with Michelin Pilot Sport Cup tires, which works perfectly.
Put into the 2013 Tuner Grand Prix (an annual German event), the MTM R8 RS won convincingly against some much more powerful adversaries like 700hp supercharged Corvettes. Admittedly, MTM had installed its TuV-approved ECU upgrade, which can takeIt has a greater effect on performance when considering the R8 LMS weighs about 2800 lb, which compares favorably for the 550hp R8 V10 Plus, which tips the scales at 3450 lb, though we’ve driven the R8 V10 with this MTM conversion and can attest to its performance gains.
The highest power-to-weight ratio obviously improves acceleration but it also has a positive effect on handling, mechanical and braking grip.
It was piloted by professional race driver and former MTM mechanic Florian Gruber, though just like a fox inside the chicken coop, MTM seemed with an unfair advantage since it not merely had a racecar entered inside a tuner event. He drives the R8 in the Sprint GT Series, so had no problems in the Tuner GP. He’s been successful in various championships, using his skills as a pro driver and ace mechanic to aid him when setting-up his cars.
2013 MTM audi r8 RS R8 LMS badge 03
2013 MTM audi r8 RS user interface 04
2013 MTM audi r8 RS BBS centerlock wheels 05
On The Road
Clambering into the R8 RS driver’s seat required a fair measure of agility. You have to tackle the side intrusion bars of the rollcage and then wiggle down into the snug-fitting Recaro race seat with its extended head protection.
The lack of soundproofing in the cabin definitely adds to the visceral experience when driving the car at any speed, though the car’s weight is instantly felt under full acceleration.
The engine may be stock, however the paddle shift-operated Hor Technologie sequential transmission most certainly isn’t. Like the majority of competition cog-swappers, you use the clutch to select first and neutral, but shift up and down using the pedal flat on the floor. The single-mass flywheel and straight-cut gears whine like banshees while.
2013 MTM audi r8 RS controlsyour face. The stark cabin further amplifies the mechanical symphony, with the decibel level directly related to throttle position.
The Bosch DDU8 LCD instrument display relays information on gear, fuel, RPM, water, speed and oil temp and could also be used for lap times. In addition there are traction ABS and control settings, both of which are driver adjustable but the data on the small screen is simply too much to soak up on a hot lap, so most drivers only glance at the instruments on the main straight if they have a few seconds to breathe and take stock.
This is also why racecars use shift lights that flicker then, green and orange red to inform them from the approaching redline, allowing you to time your upshifts before the 8500rpm limiter as you focus along the track.
One of the requirements for TuV approval on the car was a reasonable ride height for the road, and so the MTM R8 RS sits about 35mm more than the GT3 version. The fully adjustable race suspension can be softened and raised, and so the ride is nowithin a machine seems like this, a firm ride and near-apocalyptic soundtrack clearly include the territory. And since it’s not everyday you see a racecar in full livery driving down the road, the looks of astonishment we collected while driving the Audi R8 RS on the public highway were simply priceless.
As well as the graphics, the outside was festooned with aero aids like the front splitter, flics along with the huge rear wing. However, these aren’t there for show, although you need to be travelling at high speed to experience their full aerodynamic advantage. In fact, there’s a long sweeping curve near MTM’s HQ and while I may hesitate for taking it flat-out in a regular car, we could have the R8 RS actually hugging the tarmac as speed increased, foot flat around the board in fourth gear.
While the cornering ability could be even better using its ride set at the track height, it was actually already superior to any supercar of its dimensions. And the sticky Michelin tires contributed to the entire impression. Admittedly, they don’t have the grip of slicks, but straddle the line between road-legal and track tires. Importantly, they will work well relatively on a wet surface provided there’s littleIn the tighter bends, the car turned like a go-kart, its lower mass, smaller steering wheel and rose-jointed suspension removing any last vestige of road car vagueness. The typical racecar seating position put you nearly on the floor, giving you a direct connection to the path.
The driving experience is memorable, obviously. How frequently have you heard that cliche, whilst the problem is, it felt like a racecar on the road? With this occasion, it’s the only way to accurately describe the MTM R8 RS.