Eleven Audi R8 LMS in the 2019 24 Hours of Spa

The endurance race has traditionally been part of the European Blancpain GT calendar as well. In total, Audi – with Belgian Audi Club Team WRT, Attempto Racing, Saintéloc Racing and Phoenix Racing – is represented in twelve classifications for drivers and teams. The best spots occupied in the standings include Attempto Racing’s second place in the Blancpain GT Silver Cup Teams and Mattia Drudi’s third place in the Blancpain GT Silver Cup Drivers, plus the fourth positions held by Dries Vanthoor in the Blancpain GT Drivers class, by Saintéloc Racing in the Blancpain GT Pro Am Teams category, by Phoenix Racing in the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup Silver Teams and by Phoenix drivers Finlay Hutchison/Ivan Pareras/Kim-Luis Schramm in the corresponding drivers’ classifications. Saintéloc Racing and Phoenix Racing will each be on the grid at Spa with one privately fielded R8 LMS and privateer drivers. Belgian Audi Club Team WRT will be fielding two race cars with privateers and Attempto Racing is preparing two Audi R8 LMS as well, in which Audi Sport drivers Mattia Drudi and Kelvin van der Linde are going to share the cockpits with privateer drivers. 

The Audi R8 LMS racing under the Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup entry is special in that four particularly successful participants of the international one-make cup from last year won an entry in the 24 Hours of Spa. This cockpit will be shared by the Indonesian Andrew Haryanto, Jeffrey Lee from Chinese Taipei, the Australian Yasser Shahin and Sun Jingzu from Mainland China.

Up to six other race cars will complete Audi Sport customer racing’s presence at Spa. The FFSA GT4 France racing series will have its fourth championship weekend as part of the 24-hour race weekend. Up to four customer teams will be fielding the Audi R8 LMS GT4 there in two races. Saintéloc Racing is the title defender in the FFSA GT4 France and is currently leading the standings with last year’s title winners Gregory Guilvert/Fabien Michal.

The Audi Sport customer racing teams at Spa:

#1 Audi Sport Team WRT

Robin Frijns/Nico Müller/René Rast

#2 Audi Sport Team WRT

Alex Riberas/Frank Stippler/Dries Vanthoor

#5 Phoenix Racing

Finlay Hutchison/Ivan Pareras/Kim-Luis Schramm

#10 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT

Rik Breukers/Norman Nato/Charles Weerts

#17 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT

Shae Davies/Alex MacDowall/Paul Petit

#25 Audi Sport Team Saintéloc 

Christopher Haase/Frédéric Vervisch/Markus Winkelhock

#26 Saintéloc Racing

Michael Blanchemain/Simon Gachet/Steven Palette/Pierre Yves Paque

#55 Attempto Racing

Mattia Drudi/Pieter Schothorst/Steijn Schothorst

#66 Attempto Racing

Milan Dontje/Kelvin van der Linde/Clemens Schmid

#80 Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup

Andrew Haryanto/Jeffrey Lee/Yasser Shahin/Sun Jingzu

#129 Montaplast by Land-Motorsport

Ricardo Feller/Jamie Green/Christopher Mies

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Anatomy of a winner: How the Audi R8 LMS scored victory in the 24 Hours of Nürburgring

“This statistic is not only a nice success for Audi Sport customer racing, but also sends a message to our customers,” says Chris Reinke, Head of Audi Sport customer racing. “In our strategic commitments, we definitely rely on ‘used cars’ as well and demonstrate the success that can be achieved with them. However, the greatest benefit to our worldwide customers is the durability of our engineering design.” The production-based GT3 race car shares 50 percent of its components with the production model. The ASF multi-material chassis of aluminum and CFRP is produced at the same manufacturing facility as the production model, at Böllinger Höfe of Audi’s Neckarsulm site. The quality of the lightweight design is excellent as well: the race car tips the scales at merely 1,235 kilograms, but has to weigh 1,310 kilograms in the Nürburgring 24 Hours due to the regulations. 

The V10 engine is even almost completely production-based. With service intervals of 10,000 kilometers and rebuild intervals of 20,000 kilometers, the customer racing car makes particularly economical operation possible for the teams. The power-plant in the winning car had already run for 5,000 kilometers bevor the event at the Nürburgring began. The rating of the race car, which serves to put all competitors on a similar lap time level, results in a variation: on the roller dynamometer, the V10 engine produces merely 487 horsepower at the Nürburgring on account of the mandatory air restrictor, while the production model delivers 27 percent more output, that is 620 horsepower. Thus, in the engine output ranking in the SP9 class, the Audi R8 LMS was in the last but one spot at the Nürburgring. In other words: the GT3 race car that was the second-weakest in the field due to the regulations won the race thanks to its above-average concept. 

The Nordschleife of the Nürburgring is a 25.378-kilometer roller coaster track that is respected by drivers from all over the world and keeps proving its “Green Hell” character. In spite of these tough conditions, Audi – unlike other manufacturers – made only minor modifications to adapt the race car to the Nordschleife. The prescribed ground clearance of 70 millimeters means that the GT3 sports car lies about one centimeter higher above the tarmac than on other race tracks. As a result, as well as due to the 100 millimeter slimmer rear wing prescribed by the regulations, aerodynamic downforce is reduced. Even so, the sports car remains easy to drive. The entire team with race engineers and drivers delivered an impeccable performance at the event. 

Other Audi customer race cars were successful in the iconic 24-hour race as well: Third place went to Audi Sport Team Car Collection of Marcel Fässler/Christopher Haase/René Rast/Markus Winkelhock. The cockpit of the second Audi from Phoenix Racing was filled by two amateur drivers – Kim-Luis Schramm and Vincent Kolb – who together with two other drivers clinched a remarkable seventh place overall thanks to the car’s good drivability. Four gentleman drivers from Team Car Collection Motorsport, who only occasionally contest races, on clinching 15th position in the field of 155 entrants, demonstrated the qualities of the Audi R8 LMS as well. Like all other customers, they benefited from the most recent evolution: Since 2019, a new aero package has enhanced handling stability once more. In addition, improvements have been made to increase the race car’s durability and consistency even further. 

So, what will happen to the race car of the winners now? Audi Sport customer racing proves its close ties to customers and sponsors in this respect, too: Audi Sport will sell the original winning car to an interested partner, just like the brand did when victory was clinched two years ago.

With its second 24-hour race victory within the space of just six months following its successful debut in Dubai in January and 13th overall victory in a 24-hour event, the Audi R8 LMS ranks among the best models worldwide. More than a dozen manufacturers offer GT3 cars for customer racing. Another competition is coming up soon. Just five weeks after the Nürburgring, the next major 24-hour race – at Spa – is on the calendar. Audi has won the iconic event in the Ardennes four times since 2011.

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Multifaceted personality: predictive active suspension in the A8 flagship model

Predictive active suspension in the Audi A8 is a fully active suspension system. Its electromechanical actuators adjust the suspension. They can lift up or force down each of the luxury sedan’s wheels individually, to actively manage the body’s ride height in every situation. The active suspension can lift or lower the body by up to 85 millimeters (3.3 in) from its central position at all four corners within five-tenths of a second.

There are compact electric motors located close to each of the Audi A8’s wheels, running off the car’s 48-volt primary electrical system and governed by power electronics. A belt drive and a compact harmonic drive step up the electric motor’s torque almost 200-fold to 1,100 Nm (811.3 lb-ft) and apply it to a steel rotary tube. The latter is permanently attached to a preloaded titanium rod located inside it and capable of turning through more than 20 degrees. From the end of the rotary tube, the force is transmitted to the suspension via a lever and coupling rod – at the front suspension it acts on the spring strut, and at the rear suspension on the transverse link.

Predictive active suspension operates highly efficiently. Its average power consumption is in the range of just 10 to 200 watts – much less than that of comparable hydraulic systems. Whenever the driving physics try to force the body down on the wheel, for example on poorly surfaced roads, predictive active suspension counteracts this effect. An extremely sharp impulse – as encountered on the racetrack, for example – will produce a very short but high energy demand of potentially up to 6 kilowatts. Depending on the driving situation, up to 3 kilowatts can also be fed into the 48-volt battery.

Wide spectrum: from “dynamic” to “comfort plus”
In conjunction with the air suspension and Audi drive select dynamic handling system (both standard), predictive active suspension in the Audi A8 enables an unprecedented spectrum for driving. In the “dynamic” profile, the luxury sedan acquires the handling of a sports car. The A8 turns in firmly, and when cornering fast with 1 g lateral acceleration the body inclination (roll angle) is just 2 degrees – as opposed to more than 5 degrees with standard suspension. In every driving situation the rolling moment is optimally distributed and dive when accelerating or braking is reduced to a minimum. The result is a sporty quality of self-steering in the neutral to slightly oversteering range. The Audi flagship model runs with rail-like precision and guarantees outstanding, safe handling characteristics.

Innovative technologies: prediction as well as reduced transverse and longitudinal forces
If, on the other hand, the “comfort plus” profile is selected in Audi drive select, the luxury sedan glides with velvety smoothness over any bumps in the surface. The predictive active suspension works together with the front camera. Thanks to this camera, the flagship model identifies uneven surfaces before they are reached and predictively regulates the active suspension. Even before the car hits a bump, the predictive function developed in-house at Audi signals the correct positioning travel to the actuators and actively adjusts the suspension. This reduces body movement and compensates almost entirely for long road undulation or similar unevenness. This complex process takes just a few milliseconds: the camera generates information about the surface properties 18 times a second. The electronic chassis platform processes the road surface data and precisely actuates all suspension components almost in real time.

In the “comfort plus” profile, predictive active suspension offers another innovative feature: transverse force reduction. Upon entering a bend, this raises the body on the outer side of the bend while lowering it on the other side. The A8 leans into the bend by up to 3 degrees, rather like a motorcycle. This angle reduces the transverse forces. The effect is especially impressive in the speed range from 80 to 130 km/h (49.7 to 80.8 mph) and at lateral acceleration of up to 0.4 g. The driver and passengers barely notice the cornering maneuver – and even a full cup of coffee in the cup holder will not spill. The intensity of transverse force reduction depends on a number of factors: the road speed, the g forces encountered, and the road surface. The electronic chassis platform – the central suspension control unit – processes the data supplied by the sensors and passes it on to the active suspension’s control unit.

For straight-line travel in the “comfort plus” profile, predictive active suspension can equally reduce the forces acting on the human body. When accelerating hard or braking in situations that could impact comfort, it equalizes the body’s pitching movements – when stopping at lights, for example. The slight overcompensation that it realizes means the occupants are if anything pushed very gently into their seats instead of against their belts. Predictive active suspension even gives the occupants lavish comfort treatment when the car is at a standstill. When the door handle of the A8 is operated, the body is quickly raised by up to 50 mm (2.0 in) – for even easier entry and exit. The new “elevated entry” function makes this possible.

With pre sense 360°: even greater safety
Predictive active suspension also increases passive safety in combination with the “pre sense 360°” safety system, part of the assistance system “City”. It operates in conjunction with the central driver assistance system (zFAS), which uses the merged sensor data to identify hazardous situations around the car. In an impending side impact at more than 25 km/h (15.5 mph), the active suspension raises the body by up to 80 millimeters (3.1 in) on the side of the impact. This brings the sill into a better position to absorb the impact energy. Deformation of the cabin and the loads acting on the occupants, above all in the chest and abdominal areas, can thus be reduced by up to 50 percent compared with a lateral collision in which the suspension is not raised.

Customers in Europe can order predictive active suspension in the Audi A8 from August 2019. The extra charge in Germany is EUR 5,450.

Audi tests assembly processes for the e-tron GT entirely virtually

This is the first time that workflows along the assembly line and the associated logistics processes are being tested entirely virtually in the “3P workshops”. In the production system, 3P stands for the Production Preparation Process, and is used for process validation. With the workshops, the planners along with colleagues from Logistics, Assembly, Pre-Series Center and Quality Assurance run through all the work steps and check the planned processes for their feasibility. Are all the work steps ergonomically sound? Is the positioning of the tool trolley right? Hitherto these tests used to be conducted in workshops on prototypes. “The e-tron GT is the first vehicle in the VW Group to dispense with an actual prototype in the 3P workshops,” explains Markus Moinot, Head of Production Planning Processes in Neckarsulm.

The “3P workshops” project is the result of close collaboration between Assembly Planning in Neckarsulm, Assembly Planning in Ingolstadt and the Audi Production Lab (P-Lab). The team in the P-Lab developed the software in-house. It is now being used for the first time in Neckarsulm as part of planning for the e-tron GT. The digitization of the workshops drives forward the company’s digital transformation. Bernd Widdmann, Head of Assembly Planning Methods in Ingolstadt: “Digitization of the workshops was a logical, consistent step toward further developing the existing 3P method. With the virtual workshops we also facilitate good, highly effective collaboration of participants from various sites. At present, we are testing this between Ingolstadt and San José Chiapa in Mexico.” The switch to the digital world promotes collaboration between the teams and sites, while also saving resources, for instance thanks to fewer business trips. As such, the technology has enormous potential for the entire Volkswagen Group. “Audi has assumed the role of brand leader with the development of the VR method for the 3P workshop,” adds Markus Moinot.

The 360-degree scans are a vital element in implementing the 3P workshops virtually. To this end, production halls or complete buildings are scanned three-dimensionally using custom software and hardware. Audi is collaborating with a start-up from Munich to create a virtual copy of the production facility. The result is extremely precise, with measurements of a cycle, for instance of the cockpit installation on the R8 or the e-tron GT, accurate down to a few millimeters. On the basis of this data, production is then planned and the cycles and equipment set up. At the same time, the scan process generates a point cloud, which can be used to reconstruct the equipment and infrastructure virtually. The Audi employees can therefore digitally update their layout and planning systems, saving time and money in the process. The 360-degree model in the Böllinger Höfe is another important step toward digital shadows.

Personnel change at Audi plant Ingolstadt: plant director Albert Mayer to retire, Achim Heinfling to be new plant director

Albert Mayer, 65, a genuine Audi veteran, looks back on 40 years at the Audi and Volkswagen Group. Peter Kössler, Audi’s Board of Management Member for Production, praised his commitment as plant director: “Over the past three and a half years, Albert Mayer has dedicated himself to Audi’s home location of Ingolstadt as plant director, and has put his heart and soul into the plant and the concerns of his team. Albert Mayer has been particularly successful in making production more flexible. Until he retires in the fall, he will continue in his role as plant director with his full vigor – just like he has always done.”

Achim Heinfling, 56 years old and a mechanical engineer by training, has been at Audi for almost 30 years and is currently managing director of Audi Hungaria. Board of Management Member for Production Kössler: “In Achim Heinfling, we have found a worthy successor for Albert Mayer as plant director, both professionally and personally. Heinfling combines great expertise in automotive and engine construction with a high degree of analytical competence and empathy. In his function as managing director of Audi Hungaria, he has already gained extensive experience as a plant director. These are the best prerequisites for steering the Ingolstadt plant through challenging times into a successful future.”

Alfons Dintner is to be Achim Heinfling’s successor as the managing director of the Audi plant in Győr, Hungary. Dintner also brings great experience as a plant director: Until May 2019, he was managing director of Audi México; before that, he was plant director and general manager at Audi Brussels. Dintner is currently in charge of the Audi pre-series center.

Curriculum vitae of Achim Heinfling, Albert Mayer and Alfons Dintner are available online at www.audi-mediacenter.com (Company/Biographies).