Audi R8 #6 – Minichamps

R8 #6
2003 Audi R8
Pilots: J. J. Lehto, E. Pirro, S. Johansson
Team: Champion Racing / Dave Maraj
Race: 3rd overall (1st in LMP 900 class) at Le Mans in 2003
Minichamps - 400051303 (diecast) 

Published 09/06/19

Audi R8 #1 (03/17/17):
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.

R8 #6
And another good looking R8 not in “standard Audi prototype livery”.

With the 1-2-3 finish of 2002, expectations were high for Audi. And to spice things up, Bentley’s Speed 8 was progressively getting better. Though not in the same LMP900 class, the GTP Bentleys had a concrete shot at an overall win. However, ACO thought that overall speeds in 2002 were too high. Consequently, they determined that all classes should have a 10% decrease in engine output. So though the 2003 R8 was basically the same 2002 car (with minor aerodynamic tweaks), it was less powerful. With the new and bigger air restrictors Audi’s 2003 V8 now produced 520 hp.

A privateer saved the day for Audi in 2003.

To maximize their chances, Audi had three R8s in three different privateer teams. R8 #6 here was racing for Champion Racing, with a very experienced pilot roster. It was an eventful race for everybody, but Bentley managed the lead for almost the entire race. With that, both Speed 8s came in first and second, while Champion Racing’s #8 came in third. Though third overall, they were first in class. 

Another “honest” model from Minichamps…

So, the R8 #6 is not an overall winner but a class winner. And, if you add to that the fact that Minichamps did a nice job on the model, it’s a double win. Definitively not for every collector, but a nice model for the R8 fan or Le Mans nut. Like me, in both accounts.

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