Oof! It's the Audi R8 GT3 Evo racecar

batch a1812023 large

Forget the plug-in stuff; is this updated R8 endurance racer the real Paris star?

batch a1812027 large

batch a1812030 large

This is the new Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo, and you won’t see a hornier, angrier racecar today. It arrives at the Paris Motor Show just as its cousin – the Lamborghini Huracan – has received the same GT3 Evo treatment. Essentially, even racecars get mid-life facelifts.

batch a1812037 large

And in the R8’s case, it’s come before the road-going version. In fact, we’d suspect the reshaped lights and new bonnet nostrils of this GT3 Evo will appear on the facelifted R8 road car in the near future.

batch a1812026 large

On this LMS racer, though, those nostrils are key to new cooling measures to improve the durability of its parts, while a tweaked aerodynamic profile helps make its handling much more predictable and consistent.

batch a1812028 large

Yep. Whereas new supercars major on more noise, speed and drama, new racecars are considerably more sensible. Indeed, Audi admits that the Evo’s changes are to please the customers who buy its racing cars – gentleman drivers, in antiquated terms – rather than the steely professionals. So the Evo’s tweaks are to make it safer and cheaper to run, rathe than sharper or more exciting.

batch a1812038 large

“The objective was not to make faster lap times possible,” says head of Audi customer racing, Chris Reinke. “The balance of performance rules level differences between the various race cars from more than a dozen manufacturers through specific interventions anyway.”

batch a1812033 large

The pesky balance of performance rules also affect the power output. While the Evo’s 5.2-litre V10 engine rolls off the same production line as the road-going R8’s, it has less power: it’s capable of nearly 580bhp, but in many race series has to be limited to 500bhp.

batch a1812035 large

Mind, the road car isn’t eligible for dozens of races around the world, highlights being the Nürburgring 24 Hours, America’s IMSA WeatherTech series and Super GT, among myriad others.

batch a1812034 large

You want one? The R8 LMS GT3 Evo costs €398,000 plus tax. Though if you already have an LMS made in the last few years, you can retrofit the improvements to your car for around €33k. Pocket change, in the world of motor racing.

Order one now and your Evo will be delivered in November, giving you time to get accustomed to it before it can start racing in January. Tempted?

STORY Stephen Dobie

Author: TopGear
Top Gear is a British television series about motor vehicles, primarily cars, and is the most widely watched factual television programme in the world.