1999 Audi R8C

Images courtesy and copyright Audi AG
Text copyright Michael J. Fuller

Taking styling cues from the Toyota GT-One, a good bit of first-hand knowledge from designer Tony Soutgate, and the financial resources of a passenger car producer such as Audi, you should have a winning car.  But a winning car the first time out at Le Mans?  Well, perhaps not. 
Note the small horizontal strake at the rear of the longtail.  The strakes create a vortex that helps wake infill as well as produces a small amount of downforce on the surface.
In this view you can see the effects of the extreme frontal area reduction program.  The Toyota-esque front wheel bodywork helps to trim some of the frontal area.  The minuscule car height helps as well.  This is also a good view to take a gander at the odd cut-out in the roof of the cockpit (the "buttification" as one wag put it).  According to Race Car Engineering, the roof humps were designed for driver helmet clearance, the space between the humps being below the minimum legal height, the peaks being just at minimum height.
A winner out of the box?  I'm sorry, but I have to put my money elsewhere this year.  Granted both the R8R and R8C have been running like the proverbial trains in both testing, and the R8R's Sebring debut.  But there hasn't been an impression of front runner performance.  Perhaps Audi is better at this than we all suspect?  Perhaps they have been sand bagging?  We shall see at Pre-Q.**

**9.21.99:  Audi's performance at Le Mans showed that the R8R and -C lacked development time.  While the R8R's 3rd and 4th place finishes were promising, the fact is that the cars were a long way off  the pace and still showed some reliability issues (the 4th placed required three transmission changes).  For 2000 Audi is abandoning the -C variant and concentrating on building a new -R.

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