copyright Audi Sport Press
Text copyright Michael J. Fuller
and built by Racing Technology Norfolk (RTN), the 1999 Audi R8C was part
of Audi's massive Le Mans effort that year that included no fewer than
4 cars (2 R8Rs and 2 R8Cs) but designed to two different regulation sets.
The R8C was driven by the lack of certainty as to which regulation set
would provide a car with the clearest performance advantage. Unfortunately
the concept was compromised given it's vastly shorter design and manufacturing
time scales (something along the lines of a mere 6 months), even though
it had the starting point of the Audi R8R's engine, bellhousing/gearbox, and rear suspension.
Tony Southgate acted as a consultant and the car's design was executed by Peter Elleray and RTN. "...Tony oversaw the design of the R8C...(but) we told him what we were going to do in case he didn't want that, but he never really interfered. As things progressed I just got on with it and directed the other guys as I saw fit," says Elleray.
The Audi R8C's one and only race was the 1999 24 Hours of Le Mans. Both cars fell out with gearbox issues, and that was mostly testament to the car's delayed development period. Ultimately Audi's 1999 effort was distracted with running 4 different cars of two different designs. For 2000 Audi completely redesigned the open top R8R into the R8 and the rest was history.
If you're a student of history, you'll recall the Peter Elleray/RTN designed the Bentley LMGTPs that followed in 2001 (and won Le Mans in 2003). It isn't much of a stretch at all to suggest the experiences with the R8C helped RTN build a better coupe come Bentley. Indeed, Elleray sums it up best, "I think the experience of a poor car like this is quite useful in then getting it right - if you get a second opportunity!"
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