High-speed inspection

Seven tests and races at Nürburg, Spa, Suzuka and Kyalami, and back to the garage in Heilbronn-Biberach between each of these events. These are the stops of the Audi R8 LMS GT3 with chassis number 106 during the 2019 season. This example serves to describe the service work done by Audi Sport customer racing.

12/03/2019 Reading Time: 5 min

Audi R8 LMS in the workshop

FULLY FLEDGED GARAGE SERVICE

Audi R8 LMS on the racetrack

Roughly one week has been scheduled at Audi Sport customer racing’s garage in Heilbronn-Biberach before chassis number 106 has to embark on its long journey to the next race. The Audi R8 LMS GT3 to which this code belongs is still wearing its white-red body wrap and the car’s number, 125. With it, the sports car was most recently on the grid of round four of the Intercontinental GT Challenge at Suzuka where it claimed seventh position in the 10-hour race, with Christopher Haase, Christopher Mies and Markus Winkelhock, all of them Audi Sport drivers, at the wheel.

Audi Sport customer racing

Together with its GT3 customer teams, Audi Sport customer racing has strategic commitments in the Intercontinental GT Challenge, the FIA GT World Cup and at high-calibre stand-alone events such as the 24 Hours of Nürburgring. The importance of GT3 sports car races has consistently grown worldwide over the past ten years.  

Complementing these activities, Audi Sport customer racing offers the Audi R8 LMS model in the GT2 and GT4 specifications for exclusive use by customers.

Audi R8 LMS in the workshop

At the workshop of Audi Sport customer racing, the preparation of chassis number 106 and a second Audi R8 LMS GT3 for the 9 Hours of Kyalami, a race which is part of the Intercontinental GT Challenge, continues in full swing. Two mechanics per car perform the high-speed maintenance between races in Heilbronn-Biberach. With a total crew of 35 employees, Audi Sport customer racing carries out up to twenty of these checks per year at its garage. Heilbronn-Biberach is the location at which the final assembly of every newly produced R8 LMS takes place. Michael Schäfer is the operations manager and Johannes Kind the coordinator test and race preparation.

Audi R8 LMS in the workshop

CHASSIS AND BODYWORK CHECK

Plate with car number

Is a car still in impeccable condition after a race? That’s the key question before any chassis check at Audi Sport customer racing. After the most recent event at Suzuka, chassis nummer 106 does not require extensive checking. The driver trio of Haase/Mies/Winkelhock raced in Japan without an accident. However, if any of the race cars had contact with a rival or a track barrier it will initially be optically measured and checked.

Audi R8 LMS in the workshop

“If we notice any inconsistencies during the optical measurements we’ll additionally check the chassis points on our measuring plate here in Biberach,” says Johannes Kind. If the chassis is damaged the front and rear ends of the Audi R8 LMS can even be completely replaced. This saves repair time and costs.

Audi R8 LMS in the workshop

The rear wing, a component that’s particularly vulnerable to damage in duels and spins, is ultrasonically examined for deformations and material destructions in Heilbronn-Biberach even after smallest contacts with external objects – and replaced in case of doubt. Destroyed attachments are generally replaced.

Dampers

The body-in-white remains as is during the maintenance between two racing events including the cabin and cable harness. Everything else around the car is ‘stripped off’: wheels, suspensions, the braking system, springs, dampers, anti-roll bars, body attachments, the engine, exhaust system, gearbox, radiator, battery and service fluids. 

Suspension

SUSPENSION CHECK

Johannes Kind

“During the suspension check we examine everything,” Johannes Kind emphasises. “Because your race can be over just because of a five-cent part if the fact that it was broken was missed,” the coordinator for test and race preparation continues. Components are either rebuilt or replaced, depending on the type of damage and according to the defined mileage limits. Take the wishbones of the independent suspensions for example: on the Audi R8 LMS they’re designed for a life of 10,000 kilometres.

Rear lights

ENGINE AND GEARBOX CHECK

Engine

The 5.2-litre naturally aspirated V10 engine of the Audi R8 LMS, which delivers up to 430 kW/585 hp in the GT3 version, is inspected every 10,000 kilometres as well. After 20,000 kilometres, a comprehensive rebuild is scheduled. For this purpose, the unit is opened to check valve lash and the tension of the timing chains. “The maintenance and replacement intervals for our in-house cars also apply to those of our customers,” says Johannes Kind.

Gearbox

For the sequential pneumatically operated six-speed sports gearbox of the Audi R8 LMS GT3, a brief check is scheduled between Suzuka and Kyalami in the case of chassis number 106: the six magnets attached to the gearbox are scanned for metal chips that might have gotten stuck to them, in other words for abrasions and chips off the gears. The gearbox oil and the related filter are replaced. Every 10,000 kilometres Audi Sport customer racing replaces the compressor that drives the pneumatic system to change gears. After the same mileage, a new clutch adjuster is installed as well.

Audi R8 LMS on the racetrack

NEW LOOK

The seventh scheduled maintenance for the 2019 season on chassis number 106 has been completed. Like for its tests and races at the Nürburgring, at Spa and at Suzuka, this is followed by a visual inspection of its livery for Kyalami. The previous look of the bodywork has to be removed and replaced. Two working days have been scheduled for this. Printed wrap instead of a paint job make this quick visual change possible. The mechanics from Audi Sport customer racing take care of stripping off the Suzuka livery. As soon as the Audi R8 LMS GT3 shows its blank aluminium carbon fibre body shell an external service provider takes over the job of providing the car with its new wrap.

New design

For the premiere of the International GT Challenge at Kyalami, Audi Sport customer racing had a typically African livery designed. The key theme on the R8 LMS GT3 entered in the race is zebra stripes, flanked by subtle line and wedge patterns plus the country’s flag. With the design sporting local colour, Audi Sport continues a successful graphic tradition and in doing so again shows respect for the hosts. The Kyalami livery is printed on self-adhesive high-performance films using digital technology. Subsequently, it’s protected by glossy over-lamination. 

New design

Wrapping a racing car always poses the same challenge: the livery printed on the film has to be applied to the body in a way that exactly matches the sample design. Guiding lines generated by a laser beam and projected onto the car assist the wrapping staff in performing their job. However, in spite of all advanced technology, craftsmanship and a perfect eye are still crucial for the final outcome.

New design

Once all the parts of the livery films have been positioned on the bodywork the new car numbers, plus the brand logos of Audi Sport and those of the advertising and technology partners are placed as previously defined. The same goes for the inscriptions showing the names of the driver squad: for the Kyalami race in chassis number 106 and the new car number 25, the names are Dries Vanthoor, Kelvin van der Linde and Frédéric Vervisch. This final step of the wrapping job again calls for absolute precision work with a measuring tape, cutting knife and spatula.

Audi R8 LMS next to a truck

“The wrap of our cars not only has to be visually appealing but also practical. This is essential to making any mending that becomes necessary now and then without a major time loss,” says Johannes Kind. In addition, Kind continues, it’s important that the films are applied to the bodywork with as few layers as possible. “This requires a compromise between design and competitive thinking because each gram of excessive weight counts just as much as any edge that impairs perfect airflow.”

Audi R8 LMS on the truck

NEXT SHIPMENT

Team photo

The usual functional run on the test track concludes the garage visit to Heilbronn-Biberach. Chassis number 106 and its sister car will now travel on to South Africa: in a container, strapped to transport racks; first by truck and train to Antwerp and from there by ship. As always when the cars are transport by ship or aircraft: the petrol from the fuel tanks of the Audi R8 LMS has been pumped off and the battery disconnected. The racing cars have special shipping dampers installed on them during their journey and rest on profiled rain tyres with an inflation pressure of 1.8 bar. Their ground clearance is raised for shipping in order to prevent damage to the underfloors while the cars are being loaded and unloaded.

Audi R8 LMS on the racetrack

“For environmental and cost reasons, we prefer ships to aircraft for overseas travel,” explains Johannes Kind. That’s why Audi Sport customer racing’s cars are often travelling for several months. For instance, the cars being fielded every year in the traditional FIA GT World Cup in Macau always return to Heilbronn-Biberach after New Year’s. Chassis number 106 will bring final position eleven and 2,070 additional kilometres to the garage from the 9-hour race at Kyalami. In total, the Audi R8 LMS GT3 commissioned in spring of 2018 has clocked 24,929 kilometres in Audi Sport customer racing’s service. And the next high-speed maintenance is already awaiting it at the garage.

HIGH-SPEED
INSPECTION

Audi R8 LMS in the workshop
Audi R8 LMS in the pitlane
Design

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