2002 Audi R8
Pilots: F. Biela, E. Pirro, T. Kristensen
Team: Audi Sport Team Joest
Race: 1st GC (LMP900 class) at Le Mans in 2002
Minichamps - 2.00.000.01408 (diecast)
In 1997 the Le Mans race was very popular, consequently all the Big Brands were participating in the fun. So in 1998 Audi started it’s own program, eyeing both the Le Mans 24 Hours and the ALMS races. For the 1999 season the barchetta R8R, developed jointly with Dallara, was ready and even managed a 3rd and 4th places at La Sarthe. With the good results of 1999, Audi decided to stick to the open-top style, so the R8 was the evolution of the R8R.
Developed by Audi Motorsport and Joest Racing, it started out winning it’s first race, the 12 Hours of Sebring of 2000. The chassis of the car was said to be like a Lego model, where everything could be quickly changed. For instance, on other cars it would take up to one to three hours to change a damaged transaxle. However, the Joest team could do the same job on the R8 in little over three minutes! The engine was a 90º V8 with DOHC , 32 valves and fed by FSI direct fuel injection. Displacing 3596 cm³ and turbocharged by twin Garrett turbochargers it could produce 610 hp.
The Audi R8 took La Sarthe truly by storm. In the 2000 race, team Joest managed a 1-2-3 victory, and the following year the R8 won again, in a 1-2 victory. For 2002 the R8 was back at La Sarthe, and besides Audi Joest’s two works cars there were two more R8s in the race, and once again the R8 crossed the finish line in a 1-2-3 victory. This is the winning R8 (chassis #601), the car responsible for Audi’s third overall victory at La Sarthe.
It took me a while, but I finally have a mighty R8 in the Garage. Certainly, one of the all-time great cars of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. It’s a Minichamps DE model, but above all one little detail makes it extra-special. It was one of the cars in the The Jeffster’s Box of Great Surprises that I got the other day.