A most interesting R8 popped up at the Nurburgring this week, setting off the rumor mill about just what it could be. Is it a test mule of a limited production swan song for the much-loved R8, or perhaps a track weapon for an uber rich German client? We’re not sure, but we’ve got some ideas about where the rumors in the press are going wrong, and some perspective on who built the car and what that could mean for well-heeled R8 enthusiasts who may be interested in owning one.
First off, what is it? We’ve seen it referred to as an “R8 GT3 Street”, effectively a racecar for the road. So, let’s address that first.
Is it “for the road”?
German TUV is pretty strict, and the car is wearing number plates meaning it had to pass TUV inspections in order to be registered. We’re guessing then that its status as register-able for the road is not in question, so good for those who may want to buy one.
Is it an “R8 GT3”?
No. R8 LMS nerds likely already figured this out. There are three R8 LMS configurations that were built by Audi Sport customer racing. The GT3 (effectively GTD in Le Mans and IMSA parlance) is based on the R8 Coupe and is visually much different from this car. Though less visually radical than the GT3, the R8 LMS GT4 built for the FIA GT4 class is similarly built on a coupe. Unlike the first two, the R8 LMS GT2 is based on the R8 Spyder. It features arguably some of the most radical bodywork of the R8 LMS family, including lower and more aggressive roofline thanks to the hardtop that gets affixed to the Spyder chassis for GT2 racing purposes, while the GT2 itself is more for club racing and limited GT2 series around the globe. This car is extremely close to a GT2 visually and is obviously based on the Spyder with its line above the windshield and rear deck unique to the Spider. Other unique GT2 bodywork appears straight out of Audi Sport customer racing’s GT2 parts bin, including the front bumper, hood, vents, hardtop, spoilers, etc.
Who Built It?
Test mule experts will note the license plate. Audi test mules tend to wear registration tags beginning in “IN” for Ingolstadt, or “HN” for Heilbronn/Neckarsulm where Audi Sport mules nearly always come from. A keen eye will note the “ABT Sportsline” license plate frame, while the “SIM” registration goes to the German town of Simmern. ABT, of course, comes from Kempten, though the car has already been widely attributed to Scherer Sport. Not surprisingly, they’re based in Simmern and are also a dealer for ABT Sportsline from all appearances on their website.
Partnered with the longtime Audi Sport Team Phoenix customer racing team, Scherer is one of the teams racing the Audi R8 LMS GT3 in the German DTM series and aims to take on the 24 Hours of Spa with Audi as well. That’s not all. A visit to their website describes them thus.
Scherer Sport is the new subbrand for high-performance vehicles and motorsport of the Scherer Group. The offer includes performance optimization and individualization of production cars, but also track days and taxi rides on the racetrack. In addition, Scherer Sport sells racing vehicles from Audi Sport customer racing and is involved with motorsport programs on the Nürburgring-Nordschleife and in the DTM.
The Scherer Group is a dealer group, selling a host of primarily Volkswagen Group brands including Audi, Volkswagen, Skoda, SEAT, Supra, Porsche and Ducati. They are also an ABT Sportsline dealer, and of course ABT has its own long history of association with Audi and competition campaigns with Audi Sport customer racing including the DTM.
So What Is It Exactly?
Here’s where things get murky and we’re going to share what we know and guess a bit. Spy photographer sources on site suggest Scherer is doing testing for Audi for a final series of R8 before the V10 and ICE models fully end production. They say they heard a limited production series of 100 cars could be in the works, but don’t list sources nor how believable that is.
What’s most interesting in the appearance of this car is how faithful it is to the R8 LMS GT2. Since we’re not familiar with any aftermarket builds by Scherer, it’s worth considering ABT. However, ABT has always built its own designs for bodywork. Previous Mk1 R8 or even TT DTM harkening product from ABT has always been their own look rather than using Audi racing parts.
The car in these pictures appears to be identically designed to the R8 LMS GT2, down to the center lock wheels used on the racecar. And while we do know of manufacturers that sell replica racing bodywork of cars like the RS 3 LMS and TT Cup racecars, this looks like OEM production quality we’d expect from Audi Sport. However, racing parts aren’t typically designed for the road, so that causes further confusion.
In the end, we’re not sure quite what it is. We’re hoping Audi Sport and Scherer are planning that limited run our photographers mentioned, but the lack of HN tags on this car has us somewhat skeptical. It’d be rare that Audi would place such a task in an outside partner, and then that partner would run the car without camouflage in such a high visibility spot. If we had to guess then, we’d guess Scherer built this one, or perhaps plans a super limited series, for wealthy clients and, in the event it’s not a one-off, has somehow gotten permission from Audi and TUV to make it happen. In the end though, that’s just a guess.