Anyone fancy a rear-drive R8 that takes its cue from Audi Sport's GT3 race car? Because fingers crossed that's exactly what the manufacturer's performance division boss, Oliver Hoffman, is cooking up. Buoyed by the success of the rear-drive RWS and acknowledging that Audi Sport lacks an equivalent to Porsche's GT models and AMG's soon-to-return Black Series, Hoffman said "pedestrian safety regulations" not a lack of internal support are the biggest challenges engineers face when it comes to building a GT3-inspired R8.
"We have some good ideas for a more extreme R8 as we know the powerful exterior design of our racing car is amazing - people want to drive this on the street," Hoffman told PH at the weekend's Nurburgring 24 Hours, the day before Audi Sport's R8 LMS GT3 won. "The racing car engine is almost identical to the road car's, so that's already proven, but we have the GT3 drivers doing chassis testing for us. For example, Frank Stippler, he's driving our GT3 car and is also our development guy doing the Nurburgring testing for road cars."
Hoffman said that Stippler, who was one of the four winning Audi drivers at N24, is "doing a lot of work with [Audi] road cars regarding suspension and brakes", suggesting the next rear-driven R8 will have a GT3-derived chassis as well. While he wouldn't elaborate any further, Hoffman did confirm that the naturally-aspirated V10 would remain hybrid-free - at least until this R8 generation finishes - so significant increases in power output are unlikely.
That being said, with the most potent version of the R8, the Performance, already producing 620hp at 8,000rpm, few would gripe at a new range-topping R8 restricted to weight loss and downforce. For now it seems like things remain at the drawing board stage - but with the R8's importance as a halo car long established, its motorsport kudos reaffirmed and the enthusiasm of Audi Sport's top man obvious, there's a decent chance we might be seeing something R8-LMS-like wearing road tyres on the Nordschleife in the not too distant future.
Elsewhere, Hoffman noted that Audi Sport "doesn't feel the need" to offer two-wheel drive versions of any other RS cars despite the RWS's success. He added that the division has no interest in recreating something like BMW's adjustable xDrive hardware - as used by the M5 and upcoming M3 - stating that "quattro is Audi Sport and we believe our customers value all-wheel drive in our main RS cars". That's that, then.
Hoffman also confirmed that in addition to the just-revealed mild-hybrid SQ8 TDI - powered by a twin-turbocharged 435hp 4.0-litre V8 - the flagship SUV lineup will soon grow to include an RS Q8; a car widely previewed during development and thought to output in the region of 650hp.