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Audi R8 GT3 LMS and A4 DTM in the track test

Hans-Dieter Seufert
Audi R8 GT3 LMS and A4 DTM
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M onteblanco is located in the south of Spain , around 50 kilometers west of Seville. Audi was looking for a safe race track. Because of the test restrictions, it should not have an FIA rating. 'In addition,' reveals Head of Audi Sport, Wolfgang Ullrich, 'it should be weatherproof.' Meanwhile, Monteblanco has FIA approval. And the weather? It pours like a bucket.

Getting into the Audi R8 GT3 LMS is an easy exercise

The giant pug, the symbol of the slope, appears in the fog is just as unrealistic as the prospect of driving two championship cars here: the DTM- A4 with 460 PS and the more than 525 PS strong Audi R8 LMS in GT3 version. First there is a seat rehearsal. Getting into the winning car of the FIA ​​GT3 championship is rather an easy exercise. The pilot has to fold himself up a little and circle past the roll cage with his helmet and Hans system. But the driver's seat can be moved backwards for quick driver changes in the GT series. The steering wheel can also be removed and adjusted axially and in incline.

The Audi R8 GT3 LMS is shifted like in the series

You can quickly find a dresser position behind the oval-shaped racing steering wheel. As for the operation, there are no big surprises. On the left there is a yellow button for the radio - but it doesn't work. On the right you can switch off the racing ABS with a red button - which does not seem advisable given the weather. On the right there is the steering column lever from the series for the windshield wiper operation. Top left for the light. And be careful: The steering column lever at the bottom left regulates the cruise control function in series production, in the racing R8 you activate the speed limiter for the pit lane here. The six-speed gearbox is shifted with paddles like in the series: Right goes up, left goes down.

With every shift, the compressor of the shift pneumatics purrs

Christopher Haase, mechanic in the Phoenix team during the week and driver in the Audi R8 LMS at the weekend, explains nor the rotary switch on the center console: 'Here you can set the traction control. In the dry we drive to position three, in the rain between six andseven. 'But DTM driver Mike Rockenfeller reassures:' The track has a lot of grip. 'So turn the main switch, turn on the ignition, press the starter button. The V10 reports extremely cautiously when it comes to duty. Speed ​​and clutch are not a problem : With every shift, the pneumatic shift compressor next to the driver's seat purrs angrily. The ceramic brakes need temperature.

Disenchantment on the track in the Audi R8 GT3 LMS

In the back of my mind I have the instruction from Haase: 'Use the racing ABS, brake sharply into the corner. In the corner, then away from the brake. 'The 1,250 kilograms push hard.' The ABS controls the wheels individually and maintains the balance, 'said Haase. In theory. In practice, despite the huge wing mechanism, the tail is quite restless when braking. a bit bitchy. But there is a traction control for the slide. Which sedative pill for the novice in Audi R8 GT3 LMS. What a disillusionment on the piste. You can't step on it at all. The traction control needs to be brought to work first. So with a lot of feeling on the gas pedal. Especially on the waves on the left after the start and finish arc, where you accelerate from the second to the fourth. And you can only nail the accelerator against the floor pan when the traction control is working.

The Audi A4 is a thoroughbred racing car

'That's always a compromise,' explains Audi veteran F rank Biela. His R8 LMS is in the box next door. He's doing tests for the coming season: the focus is on setting up traction control and racing ABS. The Audi R8 reaches 245 km /h at the end of the start-and-finish straight. 'You can slow down a bit, there is enough space to run out,' explains DTM driver Rockenfeller. And Audi R8 colleague Biela says: 'They have to go a long way with the DTM car if they want to slow us down at the end of the straight.' So out of the 525 PS strong 1,250 kg sports car, into the 1,050 kg A4 with 460 PS. Although the switch is not that easy. The Audi A4 is a thoroughbred racing car. The roof silhouette comes from the production car. That’s enough with the series.

On the Audi A4 DTM, even the door handles are included in the aerodynamics exercise

The base is a tubular frame with a monocoque made of carbon fiber reinforced plastic. The rest basically looks like an inverted wing profile. Everything is trimmed for downforce. If you remove the front hood, you are not in front of the four-liter V8, but in front of a pile of air pipes. Indeed, one is the air collector that supplies combustion air to the engine. The other air shafts are used for aerodynamics and providefor output. To the left and right of the cockpit you can see two of these artfully crafted ducts, which come from the front and wash around the exhaust bags and then lead out over the rear wheel arches. How clever the aerodynamicists have acted here can be seen from the rear doors, which are dummies. In the lower part they are nothing more than air ducts, even the door handle is included in the aerodynamics exercise and provided with a wing profile.

The sports seat in the Audi A4 DTM is tailored to Timo Scheider

Aerodynamics and weight distribution were also important during the development of the sixth Audi DTM-A4, of the R14 Plus, at the top of the priority list. There were over 80 detail changes. Since August 2009, however, the further development of the DTM racers has been frozen. The DTM driver also has to submit to the dictates of aerodynamics and weight. That becomes clear when you start. In order to guarantee a weight distribution of 48 percent at the front and 52 percent at the rear, the chauffeur sits practically on the rear axle. To get started you have to fold up extremely and do gymnastics over the wide side skirts air duct. The fact that the steering wheel rim can be removed doesn't really help. The seat is not adjustable, adapted to the champion Timo Scheider. I'm not exactly built broad either, at first I sit more on the seat than in the seat.

In the DTM car there are no electronic helpers

The mechanic shrugs with me under the armpits: 'Mike's seat is cut even narrower.' The belts finally press your buttocks into the seat. There is severe pinching of the hips. Steering wheel and pedals fit for this. There are no electronic helpers in the DTM car, but a little more buttons. On the left of the steering wheel half-ring sits a black button for the radio, the yellow one for the speed limiter. On the right is the blue one for the high beam, the green one for the beverage pump. The paddles behind the steering wheel are not for upshifting or downshifting. This is done exclusively via a towering switch stick. 'Warning', warns Rockenfeller, 'if you pull the left seesaw, you turn.' The left rocker switch activates the parking brake for a standing start. The right one is responsible for the brake caliper cooling.

The DTM A4 purrs almost like a production car

Scheider has it with the black Audi A4 DTM won - his second triumph in a row. The champion will of course defend the title in the 2010 season. His work tool faces a double life: It will go to the museum - and will continue to fight for victories in the essential technical parts. The technology of the master car goes into a systematic recycling process. The pressure on the test pilot is therefore no less. It has now stopped raining. But the slope is still damp. But she has a lot of grip, likeRockenfeller explains. So the main switch on, pull the ignition switch and flip it back. Press the starter button. Slightly accelerate and the eight-cylinder roars off. No comparison to the Audi R8 GT3 LMS. You sit far back, but actually in the middle of the machinery. Speed ​​up, keep it constant, let the clutch pedal come with feeling. The DTM A4 purrs, almost like a production car.

The start of the Audi A4 DTM is phenomenal

'Put the brakes really hot on the introductory lap ', advised Rockenfeller. “Only then does it really pack up.” I can't tell whether it's really hot. I can see that the wheels stop when you brake hard from the blue light strips that flicker to the left or right of the display. The difference to the Audi R8 GT3 LMS becomes clear when accelerating. The DTM-A4 has 65 hp less power, which is not a real drawback on a wet track. On the other hand, it weighs around 200 kilograms less. In the second-gear corners, the Audi A4 DTM has its superiority Aerodynamics not play out. A plus is the balanced weight distribution. The start is phenomenal. But you should be on your guard. Depress the gas pedal too hard and the rear wheels spin - which can be easily compensated at the wheel.

The DTM-A4 is the device for the professional

Even if Frank Biela downplays the performance of the DTM-A4 a bit: It is a different kind of experience when you tears through the gear lever and the Feels thrust in the back. Back in the pit lane, pull a lever up on the gear stick in first gear and push it forward again. Idle, end of test drive. The Audi R8 GT3 LMS, with its electronic helpers, is a fascinating car that you can get used to quickly. The DTM-A4, on the other hand, is the device for professionals, a pure racing car. Especially on a route like Monteblanco. The pug in the logo shouldn't be fooled. If the weather is capricious, the Osborne bull would be a much better symbol, because then the whole torero is needed.

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