The Audi Asterisk: R8 e-tron Sets Nurburgring “Record”
If I said that I was growing tired of automakers utilizing the Nurburgring as a testing ground and benchmark versus other automakers, I wouldn’t be the first person to say it. Truth is, I don’t really care; most American car buyers have never heard of the place. But that hasn’t stopped Audi from taking a car it doesn’t yet build, taking it to the ‘Ring, and laying claim to a new production electric car lap record, asterisks included.
Don’t Call It A Production Car
I’ve written about the Nurburgring more than once, as automakers like Toyota, GM, Peugeot, and others have become almost obsessive in their use of the ‘Ring both for testing and marketing. Records are always falling at the ‘Ring, and EV’s have been making improvements in speed and handling by leaps and bounds in both the production, and nonproduction classes.
The Audi R8 e-tron falls in between these two categories. While the R8 e-tron isn’t on sale yet, Audi swears the all-electric drivetrain is identical in every detail to the car that will go on sale later this year. Except that the speed limiter was raised from 124 mph to 155 mph, which allowed driver Markus Winkelhock e-tron to lap the ‘Ring in 8:09. WIth the limiter intact, the e-tron did the 12.92 mile “North Loop” circuit in 8:30.
That falls short of Toyota’s 7:47 lap in a purpose-built electric race car that has zero production basis, but it’s about a minute faster than Peugeot’s EX1. Yet with all the asterisks involved (at least two!) it almost seems silly for Audi to invest in this “record.” Why not just wait for the actual car to go on sale? Has racing the Nurburgring finally jumped the shark?