Rumors have been racing around the motor sports community for several weeks now with signs pointing to an ALMS GTE homologation for the R8 LMS. We try to not make a habit of posting and spreading rumors. However, this has been mentioned several times already including today. John Hindhaugh of Radio LeMans fame made mention of the rumor during the Race of Champions. Also, the Belgium Audi Club which is currently very successful racing the R8 LMS in Europe has hinted several times at the possibility of racing in America and Le Mans. We’ve also been told by many sources that ALMS is not happy with the FIA WEC dropping Petit Le Mans. The ALMS may speed up the introduction of more cars into the GT class in an attempt to keep the Audi fans happy. The easiest way would be to get the R8 LMS homologated for ACO GTE and that would allow the R8 to compete at Le Mans and in the ALMS.
With the current status unknown Audi is pushing ahead with the Rolex homologated Version of the R8 LMS. Coincidentally, the R8 LMS is scheduled to have its first Daytona test session on Wednesday when Audi Engineers and a few US teams descend on Daytona. The question is if the ALMS GTE spec is approved would the teams press on with Rolex or make the jump to ALMS?
The Rolex spec’d engine is too de-tuned for ALMS GT. While the tuning issue is likely a simpler fix, we aren’t sure about the roll-cage as the Grand-Am spec calls for a 2mm increase in roll-cage thickness which adds extra weight and a stiffer chassis. The Grand-Am rear wing, front splitter and rear defuser should easily be substituted depending on the construction. The standard anti-lock system and traction control of the R8 LMS are removed, since such driving aids are prohibited by Grand-Am rules as well as GTE rules.
However, our guess is that Rolex Cars will always be Rolex cars. With the Ultra version of the R8 LMS on the way we could be almost guaranteed to it racing in the ALMS. One thing is for certain, we are extremely excited about the Audi R8 LMS racing in North America. If things pan out the way we interpret them we may in fact have them racing in 2 separate series! QuattroWorld will have representatives at the test days this week at Daytona, and we will report our findings as soon as we know more.