I love this image. It’s from last weekend’s Intercontinental Le Mans Challenge (ILMC) 6-hour race at Silverstone and depicts a meeting of two generations of Le Mans Audis – the current R18 TDI and R8C from 1999.
The R8C was Audi’s first closed-wheel Le Mans prototype, it was developed alongside the open Audi R8R spyder, prior to being replaced by the all-new Audi R8 in 2000. Although the R8C was capable of hitting speeds above 217 mph on the Mulsanne straight, it lacked the handling ability and overall speed of the open-cockpit R8R spyder and could only qualify 22nd and 28th, compared to 8th and 11th for the R8R.
Only two R8Cs were ever built and due to its dismal performance in the 1999 race, Audi decided to drop it and focus on developing the spyder. Incidentally Audi returned to the LMGTP class in 2001 in the form of the Bentley EXP Speed 8. Although similar to the R8C, the EXP Speed 8 inherited nothing except Audi’s turbocharged V8 engine. Bentley learned lessons from the ill-fated R8C and subsequently took the overall win in 2003.
The rest, as they say, is history..
After nine triumphs with open-wheel vehicles the Ingolstadt brand celebrated its first Le Mans victory with a coupe in 2011 – twelve years after the R8C’s debut. Both prototypes were showcased last weekend in the Audi Fan Area at Silverstone, accompanied by drivers Dindo Capello, Marco Bonanomi, Romain Dumas and Mike Rockenfeller.
Unfortunately, we don’t know who the photographer of the image is, but if someone would care to let us know then we’d be happy to give them some well earned kudos.
Meanwhile, if you love the image as much as we do, feel free to download it for your personal use.[styledbox type=”download” ]