2002 Audi R8 #5 Pilots: T. Kristensen, S. Ara, R. Capello Team: Audi Sport Japan Team Goh Race: 1st overall (LMP1 class) at Le Mans in 2004 Spark - 43LM04 (resin)
In 2000, the R8 was the first Audi to win Le Mans. Moreover, to prove it was no accident, it won again in 2001 and 2002. By then, the R8 dominated endurance racing worldwide. However, in 2003 Bentley challenged Audi’s supremacy at La Sarthe. Their Speed 8 did an outstanding race and came in first and second. For 2004, FIA merged the LMP900 and GTP classes into the new LMP1 class – very similar to the previous LMP900. In spite of the 2003 defeat and new class, Audi did not see a reason to change the R8. So in 2004, they were back at La Sarthe with the car practically unchanged. The engine was the same twin-turbo 3596 cm³ V8, with DOHC and 32 valves. The chassis was also the same, with very minute aerodynamic differences. Furthermore, with the win in 2003, Bentley retired the Speed 8 and quit racing (again).
Dallara built chassis #602 in 2002, with the car debuting that same year at the Sebring 12 Hours. Entered by the Audi Sport North America team it started out winning. After Sebring Audi transferred the car to Team Goh, and the good results persisted. Audi Sport Japan (Team Goh) raced it all over North America (ALMS) and Europe, and of course, at Le Mans. At La Sarthe, it scored a second place in 2002 and a fourth place in 2003. In 2004 Audi landed four R8 for Le Mans, three for factory teams (teams Goh and Veloqx) and one for a factory-backed privateer (Champion Racing). Veloqx’ #8 led the race for 18 hours, until a suspension failure demanded repairs. With that, Goh’s R8 #5 took the lead. Shortly after, during a refueling stop, R8 #5 caught fire! Even so, R8 #5 was still able to finish in first place.
In scale the R8 #5 is a beauty, and looks absolutely great. Nonetheless, compared to a Minichamps it is NOT a night and day difference. Well, price-wise the difference is BIG, though. I have to admit that the Minichamps’ R8 are pretty good, though Spark has the edge – no doubt. While that may be true, I say it was a good buy, and I’m thoroughly pleased with the model.
And with R8 #5 here, I now have all the Le Mans winning R8. Moreover, with the Crocodile R8 and now this one, I’m finally done with the R8! Audi’s car became a legend, therefore for the Le Mans collector it is a must have. Perhaps you don’t have to have all of them – maybe that is only for the Le Mans nut. At any rate, no Le Mans collection will be complete without at least one. In my opinion, if you want only one, go for the first one – the 2000 R8 #8. And if you can, get the Spark version.