Audi's GT3 program has entered its next phase. Following on from a successful first year of running by the factory teams, Audi are now providing cars to customer teams to compete in various championships.

By April, around 20 cars will have been supplied to the customer teams, enabling them to prepare for the 24 hour races at the Nürburging and Spa-Francorchamps.

In its debut year, Audi won 3 titles, and had 23 victories, out a total of just 76 races, impressive stats for such a new car. Audi don't appear to have been resting on their laurels though - this year's vehicle is a homologated evolution of last year's model, featuring a number of upgrades to last years car.

Audi are also offering an update kit, to upgrade last years car to the current specification. This is in no doubt to counter the charge from other manufacturers such as BMW, who recently launched the Z4 GT3, and Porsche, who revised their Cup-S into a GT3-R as their FIA GT3 challenger.

The main focus for the upgrades is reliability, and ease of maintenance - Dr Wolfgang Ullrich - Audi's head of motorsport explains;"All the experience we gathered last season with the help of our partners has been fed into the evolution-version. We’re convinced that we’re handing over a reliable and easy to handle vehicle to our customers that embodies the high quality standards of the Audi brand."

Specifically the areas of focus have been improving the cooling system, simplifying the electronics, and also the fitment of a new gear box, which allows the inspection of internals, without the need to dismantle it.

Over the past few months the evolution-version of the Audi R8 LMS was extensively tested on various race tracks and rigs and its durability proved in several endurance tests.

The final version of the Audi R8 LMS is available at a price of 298,000 euros plus VAT. The annual production for 2010 is already sold out. The delivery of vehicles for the 2011 season will start at the end of this year.

Teams fielding the Audi R8 LMS in the 2010 season

ABT Sportsline (D): ADAC GT Masters, Nürburgring 24 Hours, VLN
Audi race experience Team Joest (D): VLN
Audi Sport Italia (I): Italian GT Championship
Black Falcon (D): VLN, 24-hour race at the Nürburgring, FIA European
GT3 Championship
Brinkmann Racing (D): International GT Open
Mark Eddy (AUS): Australian GT Championship
ORECA (F): French GT Championship
Phoenix Racing (D): VLN, International GT Open, Nürburgring 24 Hours, Spa 24 Hours
Team Rosberg (D): ADAC GT Masters, FIA European GT3 Championship
United Autosport (GB): FIA European GT3 Championship,
Spa 24 Hours, British GT Championship
W Racing Team (B): Belcar, French GT Championship

Source: Audi Motorsport