Audi Sport has taken the wraps of its new RS3 LMS race car, moments after the equally new RS3 sedan debuted at the Paris Motor Show.
The RS3 LMS has been built to contest TCR series around the world. Audi Sport managing director Stephan Winkelmann said: “Audi has been active in motorsport on the highest level for generations. With the Audi R8 LMS, Audi Sport customer racing, in a very short time, managed to build a successful customer sport program alongside the factory commitments in the WEC and DTM. The Audi R8 LMS has since become the market leader in its segment. We have the same plans for the Audi RS3 LMS, which offers customers an attractive opportunity to get started in fascinating Audi racing.”
Immediately obvious are the gigantic fender flares the RS3 LMS wears, which cover a significantly wider track and fill the car out to TCR’s maximum permitted width of 195 centimeters (76.8 inches). Aerodynamic upgrades include a huge front splitter and rear wing.
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Under the hood is the 2.0-liter, four-cylinder turbo engine dictated by TCR rules, rather than the road car’s sonorous, 400 horsepower (298 kilowatts) five-cylinder motor. But it still produces a perfectly healthy 330 hp (243 kW). Factor in its low weight of 1285 kilograms (2833 pounds), and it sprints from 0 to 62 miles per hour (100 kilometers per hour) in just 4.5 seconds and runs on to a top speed of 150 mph (240 km/h). Slower than the road car, then, but as fast as anything else on the TCR grid.
Of course, the RS3 LMS receives the full complement of safety gear, including a massive rollcage, fuel cell, and PS3 seat. There’s even a rescue hatch in the roof.
A total of 10 TCR series, including the headline International Series, currently race in 18 countries, and more are expected to start in the near future. The cars are also eligible for many more series and individual races, the Nurburgring 24 Hours among them.
Audi joins a growing number of manufacturers jumping on the TCR bandwagon. Honda, SEAT, Volkswagen, Opel, and Peugeot currently compete, while Kia joins next year. Audi Sport plans to start deliveries of the RS3 LMS towards the end of this year, in time for the 2017 season. The car is priced at 129,000 ($144,600) with a racing sequential gearbox, or 99,000 ($111,000) with a conventional manual.