The Audi RS 3 LMS, a lead contender in TCR divisions across the world, has been given an upgrade after five years of service, and will be available to customer teams in 2022 following completion of a full test season in 2021.
Audi Sport has launched the second generation of the RS 3 LMS, a popular and successful contender in the 24H SERIES’ TCR category since the model was officially launched for 2016.
In the 24H SERIES alone, the first gen Audi RS 3 LMS made a stunning maiden appearance when the Cadspeed Racing with A Tech-entered example took TCR honours at the 2017 Hankook 24H DUBAI. One round later in Mugello, the Audi was on the TCR top step again, this time courtesy of series staple Bonk Motorsport. Since then, the RS 3 LMS has gone on to win the TCE division again at the Hankook 24H DUBAI with AC Motorsport in 2020, as well as more than a dozen TCE podium finishes en-route.
Further afield, the first generation RS 3 LMS, of which 180 units were built during its four-year run, had made 3,105 appearances in a total of 1,051 races across the globe, racking up an impressive 16 drivers’ titles, 38 “further championship successes”, and 764 podium finishes, 279 of which were wins.
The new generation RS 3 LMS is set to improve upon its predecessor with new developments in all areas, though in doing so, Audi Sport has not drawn focus away from the model’s economical running and maintenance costs, its entry level status into motorsport, and “predictability and consistency vis-à-vis a loyal customer base worldwide.”
“Our new Audi RS 3 LMS takes on a great and responsible legacy,” explains head of Audi Sport customer racing, Chris Reinke. “The focus of our development goals for our latest model was on the customers. Whether it’s about running times or setup options, safety or cockpit ergonomics, we want to offer the teams a car that’s even more of a race car than before, that has many practical advantages in everyday use and that can be operated economically thanks to long running times.”
Among the most notable changes are the aerodynamics, the more striking elements of which – note the sleeker, more aggressive headlight design – are nods to the Audi’s headline R8 LMS Evo. The front apron now features more cavernous air intakes as part of an upgraded cooling package for the engine and brakes, one that also includes two deep grooves carved into the bonnet as opposed to the original’s inverted scoop. The rear wing has also been revised and is now anchored from the back rather than the front in the hoops of improving downforce and the component’s overall strength.
Interestingly, the new RS 3 LMS still stands 1,950mm wide (though the length has now grown 61mm to 4,650mm and the roof is now 90mm closer to the ground), characterful elements like the boxed wheel arches having been more fluidly integrated into the bodyshell in a “more harmonious and aerodynamically favorable way than before”. This in part is due to the fact that the second generation model has been developed using Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) rather than the traditional wind tunnel.
The 2-litre turbocharged four-cylinder indicative of the TCR concept remains intact, though Audi Sport’s new four generation ‘EA888’ replaces the outgoing iteration for 2021, with the engine block and cylinder head, crank drive, valve train, intake manifold, fuel injection and new turbocharger taken as standard from the roadcar (the exhaust system has been specifically honed). Interestingly, while the ’16 model generated “up to 350hp” and “up to 460Nm” (around 339lb ft) of torque in the outgoing model, its successor produces “up to 340hp” and “up to 420Nm” (around 310lb ft) , Audi Sport having instead focusing on drivetrain cooling, the dual water coolers now mounted separately to avoid rupture should a competitor inadvertently run through the gravel trap.
It’s likely this slight downturn in power will be offset through weight saving over the 1,145kg original. The “robust” six-speed gearbox for example remains largely unchanged, though the twin-plate racing clutch now weighs 800g less than the previous example, and the rear windows are now made as standard from lighter, stronger polycarbonate.
Tweaks to the MacPherson front suspension will now allow setup changes to made more quickly (particularly useful during qualifying), while a new ‘quick release fastener’ similarly aims to reduce the time needed to replace the rear stabilizers. Amongst the most crucial changes elements though are the tweaks to the cabin ergonomics and safety parameters, notable selling points for any customer team looking to attract PRO and ‘gentlemen’ drivers alike. The ‘driver-oriented’ steering wheel for instance now features a more clearly arranged keypad with more functions than before, and works in tandem with a new control panel in the centre console. The ‘Audi Sport Protection Seat’ meanwhile is now mounted further inwards to better protect the driver from side impacts.
“With its new transmission, advanced chassis and many other solutions, the RS 3 LMS has an even stronger race car character than before,” Chris Reinke continues. “The focus was always on concrete customer benefits. We came up with a lot of ideas that will benefit the privateers in everyday racing. Individual changes to the chassis kinematics can now be made in minutes and give teams an advantage under time pressure, for example in qualifying. A more ergonomic cockpit supports the driver even better. The car is more of a race car than before, more robust and safer
“The aim is to provide private teams with cost-effective and exciting motorsport. As a manufacturer, we have a duty to make a correspondingly attractive technical and commercial offer. Audi is committed to the TCR class of promoter WSC and to the fact that this sport is aimed at privateers. At the same time, we expect the promoters to stay true to the spirit of TCR. Technical excesses take this class to its limits just as quickly as the associated financial escalation. We are doing everything we can to prevent this.”
Following a test season in 2021, the new RS 3 LMS will be available for customer teams to compete with ahead of the 2022 motorsport season. The second generation Audi will also be eligible for competition in the 24H SERIES powered by Hankook.
Inline four-cylinder, turbocharged, 1,984cc
“Up to 340hp” @ 6,250rpm
“Up to 420 Nm” (310lb ft) @ 2,500rpm
Sequential 6-speed racing, front-wheel drive
MacPherson (front), multi-link (rear)
378 x 34mm (front), 272 x 12mm (rear)
10 x 18in, front and rear
“To be defined by the organizers”
4,650mm (length), 1,950mm (width), 1,250mm (height) 2,665mm (wheelbase)
- Words – James Gent
- Images – Audi Sport