As the 2012 Rolex Series season races towards its 24 Hour of Daytona opener and the new Audi R8 GRAND-AM begins its first American tests , rumors are beginning to swirl about the eventual potential of the car for other series like the ALMS. Most recently, a report earlier this week by QuattroWorld expanded upon these after a brief mention by Radio Le Mans' John Hindaugh during last weekend's Race of Champions coverage.
Reading between the leaves of this latest report, we suspected we had the same intel line as the editors at QuattroWorld and while things were certainly looking positive for the R8 LMS also racing in the ALMS, other factors such as complications involving this possibly opening the door for the car to the 24 Hours of Le Mans still left a glaring political question of which we weren't sure of the answer... and thus weren't sure if the rumors held weight no matter how tied-in those sources. Would the R8 LMS going to Le Mans cause internal distraction from the LMP program? How would this effect VAG sibling Porsche who campaigns the 911 in GT and plans an LMP effort beginning in 2013? Could the R8 at Le Mans actually hurt the LMP program? And then there's the whole technical issue between the R8 LMS (GT3), the R8 GRAND-AM and a Le Mans GT classification... namely costly re-development.
Obviously it's a complicated issue and while we'd love to see the Audi R8 enter the ALMS, having a better scope of the situation is something we've been yearning for. And, without being on the ground in Daytona this week, our access to key players within Audi tied to the R8 customer racing project could be better.
Enter John Dagys over at SPEED. John is on site at the test this week and he's published a VERY informative intel piece on the whole R8 program as it pertains to GRAND-AM, the ALMS and Le Mans as an extension. Key players like quattro GmbH racing program chief Romolo Liebchen and Audi racing in America expert Brad Kettler both discussed the situation with Dagys in great detail. There's plenty of insight here, from the costs of redevelopment for Le Mans (and why that likely won't happen), a complicated ACO approval for an ALMS-only configuration and perhaps a plan by which both Mercedes with their SLS AMG GT3 and the Audi R8 LMS/GRAND-AM would be eligible to race in both the Rolex Series and the ALMS... it's all part of the Dagys piece.
If you're curious about the ins and outs of the R8 LMS's potential in America, this story is truly a must-read. The piece can be found via a link below along with a link to our own R8 GRAND-AM photo gallery with more shots of the car you see here.
SPEEDcom / John Dagys R8 LMS Intel Report
R8 GRAND-AM Daytona Test Photo Gallery