The Audi TT RS VLN Endurance Car Prepared by 034Motorsport
Many of us from 034Motorsport grew up idolizing the turbocharged five-cylinder fury of Audi racecars from the 1980's, and the domination they brought to rally and road racing alike. It was a sensational overload to hear the howl of the engine at full tilt paired with the wastegate flutter at every lift of the throttle, and not to mention the ludicrous speed these Quattro-equipped cars would sustain through the corners. Audi truly developed mind-blowingly fast race cars such as the Quattro S1, 200 Quattro Trans-Am, and the 90 Quattro IMSA GTO, but just as soon as they had taken motorsport by storm, new rules were drafted to make these glorious cars a thing of the past.
Over two decades later and with the release of the 2.5 TFSI 8J TTRS, Audi Sport recognized an opportunity to bring a turbocharged five-cylinder back into motorsport via the VLN series in Germany. What came of the in-house development from Audi is nothing short of genius, as no surprise. Underneath the carbon fiber aero and body work sits a mostly untouched TTRS chassis, only this VLN-spec car is front-wheel drive. Yep, you read that right! We'll say it again to let it sink in. Front-Wheel Drive. Before the purists throw their hands in the air and initiate keyboard warrior status, let's put this all in perspective. By eliminating the Quattro all-wheel drive system along with some other unnecessaries from the street car, Audi was able to shed almost 900 lbs from the car, bringing the final weight in the neighborhood of 2,450 lbs. Engine internals such as rods, pistons, and valve train remian stock due to proven reliability, while boost has been turned up slightly to produce an impressive 372hp from the 2.5 TFSI motor.
The carbon fiber bodywork adds an extra 5.5" of width overall to the TTRS and allows for massive 18" x 11" magnesium OZ Racing wheels to provide the mechanical grip. Just by looking at this car however, it's apparent aerodynamics played a huge part in its design. In fact, the front splitter, dive planes, and rear wing all work to create up to 1,500 lbs of downforce depending on the car's speed! To properly wrap your head around the speed this car can accomplish, let's compare it to its big brother, the Audi R8 LMS Ultra. On the Nordschliefe in Germany, the TTRS VLN is only 6 seconds slower than the R8 LMS Ultra! Not too shabby on a track that's over 12 miles long.
With the help of Rotek Racing, Audi agreed to send one car to 034Motorsport for competition in the 2012 NASA 25 Hours of Thunderhill. This stateside event was considered to be a one-off experience or trial-run for Audi to gain further insight on the success of their customer program. With most of Audi's customer-based programs, they offer full on-site support including endless replacement parts when luck runs out. This, however, was a different scenario across the Atlantic where minimal spares were on-hand for the 25 hour endurance race. 034Motorsport took delivery of the car at their headquarters in Fremont, CA for preparation and shakedown before the big day. Engineers from both 034Motorsport and Audi Sport worked together to fine tune the chassis specifically for Thunderhill Raceway with only a few weeks to break the car in and dial in the perfect set up. There was no room for error or misjudgment, as the competition at the NASA 25 Hours of Thunderhill is fierce with rivals driving prototype cars such as Norma and Radical.
The car was to be piloted by Alex Welch, Christian Miller, Gary Sheehan, Robb Holland, and Roland Pritzker. All of the hard work and preparation leading up to the race positioned the TTRS VLN as one of the fastest cars cars on track compared to anything else in the field. Fuel efficiency was in favor of the TTRS as well, with more range between fuel stops compared to the competitive Porsche opposition. As it goes with motor racing though, and especially endurance racing, unforseen circumstances can rear their ugly head and cause heartbreak in the end. Such was the case for the capable and mind-blowingly fast TTRS VLN during it's run at the 2012 NASA 25 Hours of Thunderhill. A screw had backed itself out in the gearbox, causing it to preselect reverse unexpectedly and wreaking enough havoc to end the race for the team at that moment. This was a new failure that neither 034Motorsport nor Audi Sport had seen before, but may have been caused by the constant beating on the rough track surface of Thunderhill Raceway.
While the car didn't finish the race, it had obliterated the stigma of FWD cars and opened everyone's eyes to how fast an front-engine, front-wheel drive car can be. The TTRS VLN car had set a new benchmark for what a race version of a street car could do when factory-backed. Audi had brought back the turbocharged five-cylinder glory from its early years, and the speed to match. With how well the car ran and how competitive it was across all classes, there was no doubt it would return.
Bringing the experience and knowledge gained from the year prior, 034Motorsport and Rotek Racing returned to the NASA 25 Hours of Thunderhill in 2013 for redemption. The TTRS VLN was back for more, and each member of the team had even more hunger this time around, knowing that victory was possible. A few hours into the first practice session however, the car was experiencing electrical problems that had been narrowed down to the ECU. Once the ECU was removed and damage was assesed, the team found that severe vibration had occured from the ECU coming loose and ultimately damaging some of the internal components. Without a replacement ECU handy, Nate Stuart, 034Motorsport's Lead Engineer, headed back to 034Motorsport's headquarters in Fremont, CA to repair the ECU using a donor available at the shop. The setback meant any remaining practice sessions were missed, and the car was barely put back together in time to make it to qualifying.
The team qualified 9th overall with a lap time of 1:49.152 and used the remaining time to give seat time to the rest of the drivers. The race began at 11AM on Saturday morning, and the car quickly moved up through the field and into first place within the first few hours of the race. Positions fluctuated between first, second, and third for much of the race until minor contact occured between the TTRS VLN and another competitor, setting it back for a lengthy pitstop for damage repair. Luck was on the side of the 034Motorsport/Rotek Racing TTRS as competitors dropped out from mechanical failures and the Audi moved into the lead with a 24 lap advantage over 2nd place. Diligent driving and a consistent pace brought the TTRS VLN car to victory with a 30 lap lead over the second place finisher!
Endurance racing is all about practice, preparation, perserverence, and a bit of luck. For the 2013 NASA 25 Hours of Thunderhill, 034Motorsport and Rotek Racing had just the right recipe to bring home a very satisfying win!
2012 Audi TTRS VLN | Specifications
Engine & Transmission
- 2.5 TFSI with Boost Pressure Limited to 2.8 bar
- Bosch Motronic MED 9.1.2 Engine Management
- 372 HP at 6,000 RPM
- 391 TQ at 2,500 - 4,000 RPM
- Pneumatically Controlled 6-Speed Sport Sequential Gearbox with Paddle Shift
- Multistage ASR Traction Control
- Three Plate Sintered Metal Race Clutch from ZF Sachs
- Audi Sport Customer Racing Race Shell (FIA Approved)
- Audi Sport Fire Extinguisher
- Independent Suspension Front and Rear
- McPherson Style Front Struts
- Machined High-Strength Aluminum Front and Rear Uprights
- KW Adjustable Coil Springs and Dampers
- Quick-Adjustable Front and Rear Anti-Roll Bars
- Steel Tubular Front and Rear Subframes
- 355mm Full Floating Brake Discs with Brembo 6-Piston Racing Calipers (Front)
- Steel Brake Discs with AP Racing 2-Piston Racing Calipers (Rear)
- Bosch Motorsport ABS
- Hydraulic Dual Circuit Brake System with Brake Balance Adjuster
Wheels & Tires
- OZ Racing 18" x 11" Cast Magnesium Wheels
- Pirelli P Zero Slick - 305-680/18
- Length: 187.6 Inches
- Width: 77.9 Inches
- Height: 51.1 Inches
- Weight: 2469 lbs (Depending on Accessories)
- Fuel Capacity: 29.1 Gallons
2012 Audi TTRS VLN | Events, Media, Press
- 2012 NASA 25 Hours of Thunderhill
- 2013 NASA 25 Hours of Thunderhill
- Jalopnik Feature With 2012 Race Prep
- SpeedHunters Feature Covering 2012 NASA 25 Hours of Thunderhill
- SpeedHunters Feature Covering 2013 NASA 25 Hours of Thunderhill
- 034Motorsport Blog Post Covering 2013 Victory
- Alex Welch
- Christian Miller
- Gary Sheehan
- Robb Holland
- Roland Pritzker
- Jeff Altenburg
- Kevin Gleason
- Rob Huff
- Robb Holland
- Roland Pritzker
- Rotek Racing
- Optima Batteries
- Pirelli Tires
- Replay Action Cameras