2021 Audi RS3 LMS – TCR racer previews new road car

The new Audi RS 3 may still be under wraps, but Ingolstadt is giving us our first look at the premium hot hatch/sedan by unveiling its racing sibling, the RS 3 LMS. The TCR touring car, which will compete in series such as the World Touring Car Cup (WTCR), offers a hint of the production car’s styling – albeit one festooned with a variety of race car addenda.

Still wearing a camouflage livery, the LMS looks like it means business, with a large rear wing (suspended from the rear for the first time) and aggressive fender box flares to hide the fat slick tyres and wider track. At the front, the “singleframe” grille and trapezoidal air intakes from the road-going model have been retained, but they’ve been supersized for extra cooling, although the trypophobia-inducing mesh remains.

A protruding front splitter, deeper side skirts and an X-shaped rear bumper complete the aerodynamic package, the latter laying bare the single centre-exit exhaust pipe. Audi says that the new LMS is the first to be designed completely using computational fluid dynamics (CFD), without the need of a wind tunnel. The fender bulges are also better integrated into the body than before and are thus more aerodynamically efficient.

Inside, the LMS is all business, sporting a full steel roll cage, a small, flat-bottomed steering wheel with a control panel for various functions, an ergonomic centre console keypad, a beefy Audi Sport Protection Seat and a six-point harness. A new wiring system with six decentralised fuse boxes reduces weight and cable complexity, as well as offering targeted redundancies to protect against electrical malfunctions.

Audi claims the new LMS provides the highest amount of standard safety equipment on any TCR car. The driver’s seat is located closer to the centre of the car to protect against side impacts, while a roof hatch affords rescue services greater access to the interior, allowing them to pull the helmet out vertically and insert a Kendrick Extrication Device (KED) to stabilise the driver’s spine. Other standard features include a fire extinguisher system and a strong and lightweight polycarbonate rear windscreen.

The LMS retains the EA888 2.0 litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine from the S3, rather than the RS 3’s anticipated 2.5 litre five-pot. The mill is pretty much unchanged from the road car, with only the oil separator in the valve cover breather and the exhaust system being bespoke to the racer. It also comes with a new standardised engine management system from Magneti Marelli, as specified by TCR regulations.

Output is rated at up to 340 PS, sent to the front wheels (no quattro here, unfortunately) through a new Hewland six-speed sequential, equipped with a twin-plate clutch that is 800 grams lighter than before. The multi-disc locking differential is also new and enables the mechanics to easily adjust the locking effect from the outside. Stronger drive shafts also allows for higher mileage and reduced cost.

Setup changes are now much quicker and easier thanks to a shim system on the MacPherson strut front suspension – using four different spacer widths ranging from 1.2 to 10 mm, engineers can adjust the camber from two to seven degrees without the need for wheel alignment.

The anti-roll bars are also equipped with a quick-release fastener, allowing them to be swapped out on short notice. Elsewhere, the rear four-link axle features track rods for favourable bump steer effects that increase agility, while the brakes have a wider operating temperature window than before, with new ventilated six-piston front callipers.

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