If such an award could go to a machine, Audi ‘R8-405’ – the car featuring in this book – was surely the ‘Man of the Match’ for the 2000 Le Mans 24 Hours. In the end it would finish second, behind one of its team mates which had a far less-troubled run, but it was not for want of trying by Allan McNish, his co-drivers Stéphane Ortelli and Laurent Aïello and their mechanics.
The Audi R8s would go on to dominate endurance racing for a further five years. The cars had already shown what they were capable of by finishing first and second on their debut, in the 12 Hours of Sebring in March 2000.
At Le Mans, apart from a brief aberration when a Panoz led under a full course yellow, ‘R8-405’ led the race for six hours. Trouble then intervened, but the car’s drivers never gave up, McNish setting fastest lap of the race in the morning still chasing his team mates Frank Biela, Tom Kristensen and Emanuele Pirro in the eventual winning sister car. That car would soon be on its way to Audi’s museum, but ‘R8-405’ would race on in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS), driven later that year by Biela and Pirro and winning at Texas Motor Speedway and Las Vegas.
By the end of the season, ‘405’ and the other 4-series 2000-season R8s would be rendered almost obsolete by Audi’s introduction of a direct-injection engine for its new 5-series R8. That did not stop ‘405’ from competing for a further year in the ALMS, albeit in private – Champion Racing – hands, with regular drivers including Andy Wallace and Johnny Herbert. Despite its tender years, it would later go on to qualify as an historic car, and a host of new opportunities opened up as it became one of the most raced of all the R8s.
In 2020 the car was acquired by enthusiast Martin Halusa with every intention of taking it back to Le Mans in the future for the biannual Classic races.
The enthralling story of ‘R8-405’ is told in fascinating detail in this book, supported by a stunning array of photographs showing the car in action in its two years of ‘period’ competition, together with a gallery of fine studio images showing this ‘Great Car’ as it is today.