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Ultimate Audi R8 Lands With 640-HP V10

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And each one of those ponies has its neigh unhindered by turbochargers.

Audi's flagship R8 supercar may be teetering on the edge of extinction, at least in its naturally-aspirated V10 format, but that doesn't mean the company is turning its back on performance. And no, this isn't a reference to the upcoming Audi e-tron GT, the R8's supposed electric replacement, or any other performance EVs to come from the brand for that matter.

Instead, it's how we introduce the new R8 LMS GT2, the latest and most hardcore addition to Audi's motorsports lineup. It comes into the world to join other Audi LMS cars, like the R8 LMS GT3, R8 LMS GT4, and RS3 LMS, as well as to give Audi's racing customers another way to beat the competition.

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The track-only race car is based on the facelifted version of the current R8 and swaps many of the car's features for race-hardened alternatives, including a larger rear wing, a roof scoop, an aerodynamic body kit, a slim cockpit, and bodywork featuring the proportions of the Spyder. Thanks to a stripped out interior and heavy reliance on carbon fiber and aluminum, the R8 LMS GT2 will also be lean and light, allowing its engine to milk the most performance out of the chassis.

That engine, by the way, is no less than a retuned version of the R8's 5.2-liter naturally-aspirated V10 engine that's been mated to an S Tronic seven-speed double clutch transmission. In the R8 LMS GT2, however, it's been tuned to make 640 horsepower, 28 hp more than the road-legal R8 V10 Performance.

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Upgraded cooling hardware was necessary to unlock the extra power, which can be seen by the large radiator at the front end with CFD-optimized air flow channels. Ensuring that speed can be scrubbed quickly are brakes from the GT3 up front and GT4 calipers at the rear.

Rather than be the professional racing team's top choice like the R8 LMS GT3, the GT2 car is the "gentleman's race car," intended for customer racers and as such, saw its engineers place more emphasis on acceleration and braking than on surgical precision in the corners. "In this way, we have created a car specifically for gentleman drivers who have been the backbone of GT racing for decades," says Chris Reinke, Head of Audi Sport customer racing. "Modern GT3 race cars have increasingly evolved into a class for pros. With the Audi R8 LMS GT2, we are now closing this gap and making a car available that is tailored to meet the needs of this customer group."

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Paramount to that was making the R8 LMS GT2's power-to-weight ratio as low as it can possibly get. Thanks to the use of the aforementioned weight-saving tactics, Audi's Space Frame technology, and suspension parts that have been redesigned to save weight, the R8 LMS GT2 boasts a curb weight of 1,350 kilograms (2,970 pounds dry), making for a power-to-weight ratio of 2.1 kg/hp (4.62 lbs/hp).

Combined with state of the art safety features like a steel roll cage and a rescue hatch in the roof, the R8 LMS GT2 gives us serious reason to want to make a fortune and get on the race track soon. The fortune, of course, will be blown on the GT2's €338,000 ($379,313) starting price when it goes on sale later this year.

Live shots by Brian Smith (www.bms-photo.com; Instagram @bms_photo)

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