In the new Audi RS 3 LMS, Audi, for the first time, offers its customers a cost-efficient factory-built entry-level race car. The touring car has been developed for the relatively young TCR category.
With its massively flared fenders, low front splitter, large vent on the hood and top-mounted rear wing, the Audi RS 3 LMS is reminiscent of a DTM race car shortly after the turn of the millennium – albeit being much more akin to the production model. The steel body has been adopted from the production version nearly unchanged. For use in racing, the body produced at the Győr plant was only made lighter, reinforced in some areas, and provided with a steel-tube safety cage for maximum protection of the driver.
The four-cylinder two-liter TFSI engine stems from the production version nearly unchanged too. In the TCR version, the unit delivers up to 257 kW (350 HP). The Audi RS 3 LMS accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in about 4.5 seconds and achieves a top speed of up to 265 km/h. As stipulated by the regulations, the car has front-wheel drive.
Installed at the front are McPherson struts. At the rear, the Audi RS 3 LMS uses a multilink suspension. Ride height, toe and camber are infinitely variable. The front and rear stabilizers are three-way adjustable.
The sequential six-speed racing transmission of the Audi RS 3 LMS has a proven track record in other race cars of the Group, as does the multi-plate limited slip differential.
To keep costs low, driving aids are prohibited in the TCR category. That is why the Audi RS 3 LMS neither uses an anti-lock braking system (ABS) nor traction control (ASR) or an active differential.
In the development process, Audi attached particular importance to safety, in terms of which the Audi RS 3 LMS sets new standards. The extensive safety package includes an FIA-conformant safety fuel tank, a safety cell for racing, 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.
Unlike many competitors, Audi Sport customer racing, in the Audi RS 3 LMS, has opted for a sedan, which means a classic touring car. In order to offer customers a race car with perfect aerodynamics, intensive wind tunnel tests were conducted with a so-called 60-percent model. They have resulted in aero components which are visually attractive as well. They are made of CFRP and contribute to the Audi RS 3 LMS achieving a dry weight of only 1.180 kilograms.
The development of the Audi RS 3 LMS was launched at Audi Sport customer racing in April 2016. The approach used was primarily focused on the bodywork, the safety cage and the body shell. As the TCR regulations allow for plenty of freedom, numerous coordination loops with the technical working group were necessary. Like the GT3 category, the TCR class includes a Balance of Performance (BoP) rule. In spring, following the completion of rating tests, the TCR organization specifies the vehicle’s weight, ride height and engine output.
The roll-out of the Audi RS 3 LMS took place on a race track in Spain on September 23, 2016. Some 4,000 test kilometers plus a 30-hour endurance run were completed by the race car before the first customer cars were delivered. Also with respect to testing, the activities of Audi Sport customer racing are guided by the highest standards that have proven their viability with the LMP1 and DTM race cars of Audi Sport, as well as with the Audi R8 LMS.
Since the end of November in 2016, five Audi RS 3 LMS cars per week have been produced. The first production run of the 2017 season totaled 90 examples. As in the case of the Audi TT cup car, Audi Sport customer racing relies on its proven partner SEAT Sport in Spain to produce the car. Audi Sport customer racing began deliveries of the first vehicles to customers in December, in time before the seasons of the major TCR racing series open in 2017. The purchase price is 129,000 euros (plus VAT) for the TCR version with a sequential six-speed racing transmission and 99,000 euros (plus VAT) for a club sport version.