The R8's racing history began in 2009, when Audi Sport made the racing version of its sports coupé for private teams in the GT3 category of the Le Mans Series. The car has much in common with the road version, except for all the safety systems needed to comply with FIA regulations. Indeed, due to the regulations the four-wheel drive included in the R8s in the price list was ditched in favour of a rear one. It packs a 90° ten V-cylinder 5.2 litre aspirated engine, longitudinally mounted in a central position and made entirely of aluminium to contain the weight. It is closely related to the Lamborghini Gallardo now used by the Huracàn: combined with a six-speed gearbox, it boasts a maximum output of 500 hp. The frame is partly made of aluminium and partly of carbon; double wishbone suspensions with helical springs and adjustable hydraulic shock absorbers cushion the tyres on the asphalt.
The first prototypes were tested by drivers Frank Biela and Christian Abt. During production from 2009 to 2011, various teams drove the R8 LMS to something like 115 victories and 12 championships around the world.
In 2012 the first upgrade arrived with the R8 LMS updated to the Ultra version, equipped with new aerodynamic carbon components to improve road holding at medium and high speeds. The German engineers boosted the V10 up to 570 hp. In this new configuration, the car secured overall victory in both the 24 Hours of the Nürburgring and in the 24 Hours of Spa.