Audi R8 - 2004

Cette collection est une adaptation de 24H Le Mans ® Le auto delle corsa più leggendaria al mondo Éditeur : Centauria Editore s.r.l. 

The myths of Le Mans AUDI R8

No major automobile brand is participating directly in the 72nd edition of the great French event. Audi entrusts its R8s, as in 2003 and as it will do again in 2005, to a “satellite” team of the German brand for which many drivers race. The winning car precedes two “cousins” at the finish after leading the race since the fifteenth hour.

The Audi R8 won at Le Mans in 2004 for the fourth time out of five starts. This victory confirmed the exceptional character of this prototype, that remained active in different configurations for six years without ever losing its competitiveness. © IXO Collections SAS - Tous droits réservés. 

The R8 that was entered in the 2004 edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans must have faced a flashback: that year, the Automobile Club de l'Ouest, organizer of the race, introduced significant modifications to the technical regulations and combined the LMP900 and LMGTP categories into the new LMP1. Notable limitations were also imposed, including a smaller tank, a minimum weight set at 900 kg and a reduction in power to around 550 hp already in place since 2003, by means of a flange on the intake reduced by 5%. And, in order to limit the risk of accidents like those in previous years, the ACO  also imposed different aerodynamics with the aim of reducing downforce on the front and rear, and making the cars less sensitive to pitching.

Other constraints were introduced such as a smaller and more forward wing, a different frontal profile, a reduced rear overhang and higher ground clearance. Despite these modifications, the strengths that had been responsible for the R8's victories in previous years, particularly the FSI direct injection engine, remained its best assets that year and the following. 

1. The wing of the 2004 version of the R8 is due to regulations straighter and shorter than the previous one while being refocused due to the reduction of the rear overhang. 

2. The turbo V8 direct injection received in 2003 a flange on the intake reducing the power by approximately 75 hp from the 625 previously credited. In 2005, power would further decrease to 520 hp 

3. The name of Tom Kristensen is the only one that appears in all Audis teams that won the 24 Hours of Le Mans over the period from 2000 to 2005.

© IXO Collections SAS - Tous droits réservés. 

As in 2003, the R8s participating are entrusted to private teams. The winner, chassis number 602, belonged to the team Audi Japan Goh that already performed well in the 2003 edition of Le Mans, taking fourth place. The following year, the team presented itself with the experienced crew made up of Rinaldo Capello, Tom Kristensen and Seiji Ara who had just won a very good third place at the 1000 km of Monza.

The race was very competitive, but the R8 with its three headed team won the race despite a fire that started during a pit stop due to an overflow of gasoline near the engine.

Capello, driving the car, came out of the passenger compartment and the rapid response of the fire extinguishers prevented any mayor damage. The R8 No. 5 was able to resume the race and it even obtained victory ahead of two other R8s. 

1.  The Goh team was sponsored by the Japanese subsidiary of Audi, but remained a private team. The other main sponsor was the Japanese firm Casio, manufacturer of consumer electronic devices. 

2. The capacity of the tank of the 2004 edition was reduced from 90 to 80 liters. The sobriety of the FSI direct injection engine nevertheless allowed the R8 to maintain its advantage over its competitors. 

© IXO Collections SAS - Tous droits réservés. 

With this triumph, and that of the following year signed by the Champion Racing team, the Audi R8 ended its career having dominated Le Mans with five victories out of six participations, including the first three consecutively. The 2004 victory was also the fifth in a row for Dane Tom Kristensen, absolute record holder at the 24 Hours of Le Mans for the number of victories scored during his career: no less than nine! Kristensen is also the only driver to have been part of all the winning R8 crews and in 2003 drove the Bentley Speed 8 to victory at Le Mans. For “Dindo” Capello, this was the second of his three personal successes during this event, while for the Japanese Seiji Ara, it was his first and only victory.

A. The regulations applicable to LMP1 also required extending the front overhang. © IXO Collections SAS - Tous droits réservés. 

B. To reduce the air pressure below the car, the 2004 R8 was modified at the bottom of the hull and had a higher ground clearance.  © IXO Collections SAS - Tous droits réservés. 

C. An R8 delivered to the care of the mechanics: pictured here car no. 8 of the Veloqx team under repair following a collision with R8 no. 2 of the Champion Racing team. © IXO Collections SAS - Tous droits réservés. 

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