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2021 Audi RS3 LMS race car revealed, hints at the road car to come

Audi has unwrapped the 2021 RS3 LMS, a race car built for the TCR series. The entry-level touring car features several updates to its drivetrain, styling and safety features, and previews what the next road-going RS3 will look like as well, if you can visualize it without all the downforce-generating bits.

A turnkey race car for the TCR class overseen by FIA Group A, it goes against cars like the Honda Civic Type R, Hyundai i30 N, and Renault Megane RS. (Sadly, Mazda’s TCR program was axed due to the coronavirus pandemic). All TCR cars are based on production cars you can buy at the dealership, but they are usually taken from the assembly line and handed off to motorsports development teams to finish.

In the case of the RS3 LMS, the bodies are built at Audi’s Ingolstadt plant, while race-tuned versions of the VW group’s EA888 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbo are built in Györ, Hungary. Both are then sent to Martorell, Spain, for final assembly alongside Audi’s R8 LMS race cars.

According to Audi, the engine’s block, head, valvetrain, injection system and turbo remain unchanged from stock, but racing-specific cooling systems are installed. Output of up to 340 horsepower is fed to the front wheels through a twin-plate racing clutch into a paddle-shift, six-speed sequential gearbox.

All cars include a roll cage, fire suppression system, side impact protection, and roof hatch in case something goes awry at the track. Hopefully, those won’t be necessary with dual-circuit brakes, adjustable pressure distribution and ventilated front rotors and calipers. Race suspensions feature a number of adjustable points, from front and rear sway bars to suspension arms with shims of varying thickness to adjust camber.

Beneath the bodywork, you can kind of see the street car peeking through. The headlights are slimmer, the grille wider. We’ve seen fat fenders on RS3 test mules as well, but nothing as wide as the race car’s. TCR rules state that 5,000 street-legal versions of the base car must be produced annually. The race car goes on sale later this year, so expect an announcement on the regular RS3 soon.

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