Lets start my new build thread with a photo of my previous car . I know, it`s not really the way these things usually start but I feel it’s necessary to explain the plans and reasoning for buying the R8.

 

You can read the post below or watch the short video I did explaining my thought process

 

I built my previous track car over 17 years, starting from a bare shell and learning a massive amount along the way until I ended up with a very fast Golf MK2 track car. The downside to this was that the more I developed the car, the less usable it became on the road. That wasn’t a big deal as I do a lot of track days in it, but recently things have changed.

 

My wife and I are now very fortunate to have been able to take early retirement, and we not only want to continue driving on track days, but we also want to do more road trips. We go to the Nurburgring at least 3 times a year helping and attending trackdays with Destination Nurburgring, but now that we have time, we want to travel further into Europe after the track day instead of driving straight back home to go to work as we’ve had to do in the past.

Over the last two years, we had many discussions about what we want from a car. After considering many options, we settled on an Audi R8.

The first and most obvious requirement was that we had to actually like the car! There was no point in picking a car that ticked all the boxes if we didn’t actually like the look of it.

Here are the considerations, in no particular order, that guided our choice:

A high-revving, naturally aspirated engine was high on the list. With the Golf being forced induction, I’m well aware of the heat maal about a large capacity engine revving to 8k+. My son’s E36 S54 with an airbox is a great example—it sounds absolutely glorious. This led us to consider the E46 M3, but honestly, they have been done to death. That’s not to say it isn’t for good reason, but it made me realize I wanted something a little different.

I enjoy working on the car, but only to a certain extent despite what people may think. My biggest pleasure is actually driving it on track. Improving it beyond its original state gives me great satisfaction, so buying an M car was ruled out. Everything I could ever do to one has already been done to a very high standard, so whatever I did would just be for the sake of it.

Porsches are similar—they are so good out of the box that I’d be modifying them for no actual benefit when the parts are readily available off the shelf.

Cars like Caterhams or similar aren’t suitable for our planned road trips. FWD is out—I’ve done that and want something new. This made me think about the driving dynamics I wanted. As I said, I have driven FWD on track a lot. Even though I don’t post about it much, I’ve also driven RWD on circuits. However, I wanted something that would take longer to master. This led me to a mid-engined setup. It’s inherently better balanced but also has its own driving characteristics, which will I know take time to learn.

We now had the list: mid-engine, naturally aspirated, not a Porsche. Hmmm, now we could start narrowing it down. McLarens have a poor reliability and high depreciation reputation. Ferrari or Lamborghini just isn’t me. A Noble is a step too far. A couple of people on a forum I frequent had R8s and were very complimentary about them. I’ve always liked the Gen1 shape—I find the later G2 far too fussy and feel they’ll age quickly. I looked at them in more detail and liked what I found. They are now within my budget, while still allowing extra for some modifications.

I started out looking at the V8 and was able to drive Ben’s V8 Manual at Bedford for a couple of laps in 2023. That showed me the chassis was a great starting point, but the V8 just didn’t hit the spot. For a road car, I absolutely get it. The power and chassis seem ideally matched, but for track use, I needed more. I wanted to get out of the car after a session and have that “Phew, that was exciting” feeling you get after driving a high-power car on track. Adding boost isn’t an option, so that led me straight to the V10.

It’s not a bad place to end up, is it? A naturally aspirated 5.2 V10, revving to 8,700rpm. Dry sumped from the factory, so oil supply issues are a thing of the past. The GT3 race engines that compete in 24-hour races use the same engine; they don’t need to upgrade anything. That’s a huge positive—I don’t want to open the engine up at all. Where a set of conrod bearings is £20 for the Golf, they and everything else are significantly more for the R8. Fundamentally it’s a very reliable car with many owners adding boost with stock internals and gearboxes. That give me a lot of confidence that a N/A setup should last.

The chassis is aluminium, double wishbone all around. They are generally very reliable, and I don’t think it’s a bad-looking car at all.

The last choice is the gearbox. Matt (my son) immediately said the only sensible option was the DSG box in the late Gen1 cars. I wasn’t convinced. If this was going to be an out-and-out track car, yes, it would be faster. Absolutely zero question. But it’s not. It’s going to be driven on the road during road trips and also on track. A few seconds a lap don’t matter. What does matter is the driving experience. I can heel & toe well, the manual box in the R8 has that wonderful open-gated shifter in the cabin, and while it’s not a gearbox you can rush between gears, it’s very satisfying to operate. Some may call me a dinosaur for wanting to drive a manual gearbox in this day and age, but for me, the choice was an easy one—it simply had to be a manual car.

The R8 isn’t perfect, though, and there are a few areas that I’ll need to live with and others I can address. We’re going to be going on road trips lasting several days and will obviously need to carry luggage. The front boot (trunk), shortened to ‘frunk,’ isn’t exactly spacious, and while there is some storage behind the seats, it’s not exactly cavernous and will require some creative packing.

The engine water cooling appears to be sufficient, but where it seems to struggle is oil temperature on track. There are no off-the-shelf solutions, but that’s fine! It means I get to do some fabrication and come up with a better solution. I already have a few ideas. I will be carrying out extensive data logging before, during, and after the modifications to understand what is happening in detail.

It’s heavy, surprisingly so for an Aluminium Coupe. I will be addressing that within reason but my options are limited and I appreciate this will have an effect on consumables. I do have plans for brakes and tyres which are the biggest regular expense.

 

After looking on the R8 Facebook groups for many months I posted a Wanted advert and received links to 5 cars from owners who were looking to sell but hadn’t advertised them. Thought I’d found one quite local, but the seller stopped responding to messages. That turned out to be a good thing as I then found the car I ended up buying.

It’s a 2009 R8 V10 Manual Coupe. 27,000 Miles, 5 Owners, Full Audi Service History, Quicksilver exhaust, Carbon wing and a few other bits I liked. A deal was done and I drove 5 hours to collect it. To say I was happy would be a huge understatement

It needed a few things doing but I’ve done those already and will share in a later post. This is supposed to be an introduction.

 

It seems a good opportunity to discuss our plans for the car. It will never be as extreme as the Golf. While excellent on track, it’s utterly impractical on the road on a daily basis, so the R8 will be a ‘Clubsport.’ By that, I mean I’ll keep the interior but replace the seats with something comfortable but better on track (Cobra Nogaro). I’ll fit a half cage rather than a full cage. Suspension, brakes, and aero will be improved, and some weight will be saved. I’ll be removing the front drive assembly of the diff, propshaft, and driveshafts to convert the car to 2WD instead of the standard 4WD. Replacing the ancient head unit is an obvious requirement. The exhaust has already been replaced with something quieter, whilst incredible the Quicksilver would never pass any noise tested trackday.

I already have plans for the upgrades and a lot of the parts are already on order or have already arrived which I’ll share over the coming weeks.

The biggest difference in this build is that I aim to complete almost all of it before the end of the year. I know what I need to do, the order is planned, and the budget has been set aside. I am very aware of the costs involved with this car and a few people have already commented on what I should expect compared to the Golf regarding costs, almost as if I hadn`t considered that or budgeted for it.

My first trackday is next week. The car will be almost stock, the only differences will be a full service this weekend and RBF700 brake fluid flush to try and reduce the expected brake overheating.

The week after we head off to the Pyrenees for a 3 week road trip ! Watch this space.

I will keep this thread updated with photos during the process and try to share everything I do as I did with the Golf. Rest assured, this car will be used and tracked often, I will be doing everything myself where possible but also be mindful of budget. This isn’t a chequebook build, it will be done with the same principle as the Golf, only this time I have the last 17 years experience to draw on.

Lastly, let’s please avoid the “supercar” debate. Whether the R8 fits that label or not doesn’t matter to me.

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