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Customer sport racing car Audi TT RS: The lightweight construction technology of the front-wheel drive racer

B. Misano
Audi TT RS customer racing car
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A m August 27, 2011, the Audi TT RS turned the rules of Nürburgring racing upside down: The silver sparrow smashed the dominance of the rear-wheel drive GT cannons in the endurance championship - with front-wheel drive! In the modern racing world, which hardly knows any surprises, this overall victory was a real sensation (here you get to the VLN race result).

Weight management helps Audi TT RS to win

Apart from the old motorsport phrase that everything has to be right if you win, weight plays a key role, if you want to explain why the Audi TT RS was so strong on the ring. It's not just about bare numbers and hidden pounds, but also about a strictly sophisticated weight management and the general relationship between weight and performance.

The TT RS was developed in cooperation between team boss and Nürburgring specialist Nicolas Raeder and the Audi customer sports department. The first step was to look at the regulations - and the subject of weight was right at the top: The special class SP4T for turbo-fueled racing cars with a displacement of up to 2.5 liters requires an empty weight of 1,100 kilograms. Theoretically, the standard all-wheel drive of the Audi TT RS could have been used - but according to the rules, the weight would have been 1,200 kilos. So the developers asked themselves: What does all-wheel drive bring?

All-wheel drive or front-wheel drive?

A look at the data records of comparable racing cars showed: surprisingly little. The traction advantage in tight bends such as the Adenauer Forst is negligible, as team boss Nicolas Raeder explains: “The traction disadvantage of the front-wheel drive vehicle can easily be compensated for by factors such as downforce, tires, chassis and good traction control. And in the end you even gain lap time performance due to the lower overall weight. ”And to be honest: How many slow corners slow down the drive on the Nordschleife?

The decision for front-wheel drive had been made, now it was time to get down to business: Raeder and Audi benefited from the standard strengths of the Audi TT in the striptease of the road car: The so-called hybrid body made of steel with an aluminum front frame is relatively light , but very stable. Thanks to an elaborate cage construction that is directly linked to the front aluminum domesthe stiffness was further increased. Of course, everything was removed that stood in the way of the pursuit of low weight: the interior and comfort equipment as well as the all-wheel drive.

Slimming down and lowering the center of gravity

Overall, the racing version of the Audi TT RS weighs in spite of the 50 kilos safety cage a whopping 300 kilograms less than the road car. A clear sequence was established for the time-consuming filing of the weight: the center of gravity should move down as far as possible, and secondly, more weight was to be shifted towards the passenger side in order to optimize the wheel load distribution. No effort was spared: the cooler package for the 2.5 liter five-cylinder engine with 380 hp is extremely light, and even the windshield wiper motor moved two floors down from its original position. The polycarbonate windshield contributed to lowering the center of gravity, the Drexler transmission saved 30 kilos and the body parts made of fine carbon fiber are as light as a feather.

Nevertheless, a front-wheel drive car with a front-mounted engine and transmission has the design disadvantage that the masses are concentrated on the front axle: in the case of the racing Audi TT RS, it is still 64 percent. On the other hand, the weight at the front promotes traction, and the penalty of top-heaviness can be cushioned with various adjusting screws. For example, there is a lot of downforce on the front axle, which is also generated more efficiently than the downforce on the rear axle: the front diffuser and the distinctive flaps and flics have only a minor effect on aerodynamic drag.

Audi TT RS at the level of GT3 racing cars

There is also a direct connection between weight and downforce: the lighter the car, the stronger and more efficient the downforce generated. With the TT RS, around 55 percent of the aerol load is on the front of the vehicle. The data from the Nordschleife prove: the front-wheel drive Audi TT RS sails in the high-speed corners in close contact with the fast GT3 racing cars and manages corner speeds of a good 230 km /h at the Schwedenkreuz.

'The GT3 can only leave us behind on the uphill section in the Kesselchen or on the Döttinger Höhe, because they have more power,' reported driver Frank Biela at the 24h race at the Nürburgring, where the Audi TT RS finished 14th also put an exclamation mark in the ranking. In addition to the ingenious weight management and efficient aerodynamics, the Audi TT-RS package also stands out when it comes to the chassis: The newly designed layout on the front axle with Revo-Nuckles and differential lock puts an end to the fearful fidgety of the front-wheel drive. The Revo-Nuckles reduce the jamming arm on the front wheels and increase drivability, stability and control.

Front-wheel drive people have to sacrificebring

Only one disadvantage remains: Because the front wheels of the front-wheel drive have to transmit acceleration, braking and steering forces, the tires suffer more, the wear is higher and the grip drops earlier. But there are circumstances where it doesn't matter. Like on August 27, 2011: The cool temperatures and the constantly humid road conditions played into the hand of the Audi TT RS in the VLN six-hour race: The tires worked consistently, and front-wheel drive cars were less bitchy to drive in mixed conditions - a mix of success who wrote racing history at the Nürburgring.

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