Previously, the only Audi LMS car that could be purchased for customer racing teams was the Audi R8 LMS. Unfortunately, the R8 LMS costs a small fortune, so there aren’t that many racing teams out there that can afford it. However, Audi has just recently released a new car for customer racing teams to utilize just in time for the TCR Racing Series — the Audi RS3 LMS.
“Audi has been active in motorsport on the highest level for generations,” says Stephan Winkelmann, Managing Director at Audi Sport. “With the Audi R8 LMS, Audi Sport customer racing, in a very short time, managed to build a successful customer sport program alongside the factory commitments in the WEC and the DTM. The Audi R8 LMS has since become the market leader in its segment. We have the same plans for the Audi RS3 LMS, which offers customers an attractive opportunity to get started in fascinating Audi racing.”
Oddly enough, the Audi RS3 LMS is actually less powerful and slower than the standard Audi RS3 road-going car. It even packs a different engine. Instead of the glorious 2.5 liter turbocharged five-cylinder in the RS3 road car, the Audi RS3 LMS packs a 2.0 liter TFSI four-cylinder engine that make 330 hp. That helps it get from 0-60 mph in 4.5 seconds. So it’s properly quick, but not as fast or as powerful as the 400 hp road car that can do 0-60 mph in 4.1 seconds. It even has a lower limited top speed of 149 mph (155 mph for the road car).
Though, the power differences aren’t actually a big deal because the RS3 LMS would actually slap the road car around on a race track. In TCR spec, the Audi RS3 LMS sends power through a six-speed sequential gearbox that’s lightning fast. It also gets racing suspension components, race-spec brakes and is far lighter than the standard car. So it’s much, much faster around a circuit.
But Audi also made sure to make it as safe as possible. The extensive safety package includes an FIA-conformant safety fuel tank, a racing safety cell, the PS3 safety seat, FIA safety nets on both sides of the seat and a rescue hatch in the roof like the one used in the Audi R8 LMS.
“The TCR market has even larger potential than that of the GT3 category,” says Chris Reinke, Head of Audi Sport customer racing. “In 2016, there were ten TCR series with races in 18 countries, and more and more series are being added. With the TCR version of the RS3 we’re also reaching countries where no GT3 races are held. The costs for a TCR race car are very low. As a result, we’re going to win new customers for Audi Sport as well. In terms of support and parts supply, they’ll benefit from the experiences we’ve been gathering with the Audi R8 LMS since 2009, which our GT3 customers have come to appreciate.”
Audi Sport customer racing will start delivering the first Audi RS3 LMS cars to customers this December, in time before the seasons of the major TCR racing series open in 2017. The purchase price is €129,000 (plus VAT) for the TCR version with a sequential six-speed racing transmission and €99,000 (plus VAT) for a club sport version.