June 18, 2000. Audi's R8 racecar crosses the finish line first at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, an accomplishment it will repeat four more times over the next five years. Unbeknownst to the motoring public at large, Audi Sport's success at the world's most famous race spawns the conceptualization and construction of a completely new kind of super sports car.
September 30, 2006. Production versions of the all-new road-going Audi R8 are unveiled to the world at the Mondial de l'Automobile in Paris. Images of the car and enthusiastic journalistic conjecture are instantaneously broadcast across the Internet and the known motoring world is turned on its ear.
October 1, 2006. Audi performance tuners the world over begin devising plans on how to improve on an already legendary vehicle. APR, LLC, stationed in Auburn, Alabama, spearheads the western front.
As a premium tuner of Audi machinery, it was inevitable that APR would develop upgrades for this highly anticipated platform. But the project really gathered steam when Michelin, a long-time collaborator with APR, approached the company about modifying an R8 for promotional purposes, beginning in the tire maker's booth at the 2007 Las Vegas SEMA show. APR has historically been involved with testing various forms of high-performance Michelin rubber, so the undertaking was a natural fit for both parties.
As these projects usually do, this one flew together as the early-November SEMA deadline loomed. APR received this car from an Atlanta dealership (the first R8 to be delivered to that area of the country) in mid-September, leaving around six weeks for the car to be examined, modified and finalized for the show. Back at the APR facilities, each of the company's various divisions had a turn.
Graphic designers took the first stab, poring over the car's existing design and envisioning the look they wanted to give it, from the paint scheme to a brace of subtly revised exterior cosmetics. In the process, they employed what's known as a Pharaoh Arm CMM to scan and recreate the car's body panels digitally, where they could be viewed and altered virtually by using a CAD program. The finished files were subsequently sent to a firm (still an APR secret) commissioned to turn out the cosmetic enhancements.
APR's electrical engineers also had a go, examining the code within the R8's dual ECUs and plotting out mapping points for ignition, fuel delivery and power curves. Concurrently, another team of techs set about partially disassembling the car's rear end to examine its high-performance innards and began mapping a set of tubes to replace the entire exhaust system.
Once the initial assessment was completed-within days-the patient was shipped to Race Technologies in Costa Mesa, California, where it received the first of its hardware upgrades: a set of high-performance Brembo binders. Brembo engineers deemed there was already more than enough caliper in the factory application, but settled on replacing all four discs with larger race-bred rotors for better heat absorption and dissipation. These items incorporate McLaren hardware-originally patented by Brembo on the McLaren F1, formerly the world's fastest street car-which connects the hat to the rotor ring for a true two-piece floating design without any sort of operating noise at low speed.