Audi has claimed a world record for its R8 e-tron, lapping the Nürburgring in 8:09.099 minutes, but it’s important to note this is a ‘production’ EV record not the outright EV lap of the ‘ring, which Toyota still hold with their electric-powered Radical-bodied TMG EV P001.

Markus Winkelhock, nephew of former BMW DTM driver ‘Smokin’ Jo Winkelhock, was the man behind the wheel of the specially de-limited R8 e-tron, which had its top speed raised from the standard car’s 124 mph (200 km/h) to 155 mph (250 km/h) for the record-setting lap. In all other respects the powertrain is exactly the same as the production model that will go on sale at the end of this year.

The R8 e-tron is powered by two electric motors generating an output of 375bhp (280 kW) and 605 lb-ft (820 Nm) of torque – with more than 361 lb-ft (490 Nm) available from a standing start. Acceleration from 0-62mph is achieved in just 4.6 seconds and the R8 e-tron’s rechargeable lithium-ion battery stores enough energy (49 KWh) to power the car for a distance of 134 mile.

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Before we go any further, perhaps it’s worth reminding ourselves of the ‘battle’ between car makers for the Nürburgring EV lap record. To add further context, the outright production car lap record of 7:11.57 minutes is held by a Gumpert Apollo Sport, powered by a 690 bhp forced-induction version of the Audi R8’s V8 engine.

  Previous Record Holders
MINI E – A lap time of 9 minutes 51.45 seconds was set by MINI back in April 2010, but the more significant achievement at the time was being able to complete the 14.7 mile lap (at speed) on a single charge. The car went on to be used in customer trials, but has yet to reach production. The lessons have been carried forward into BMW’s ActiveE programme which is currently under trial with 700 Electronauts across the USA.
Peugeot EX1 Concept – A time of of 9 minutes 1.338 seconds was set by Peugeot’s futuristic concept in early 2011. It’s a concept, so there’s no chance of it reaching production, but important lessons were learned that Peugeot have applied to its recent electric hybrid power plants.
Toyota TMG EV P001 – A Radical chassis powered by two electric motors was used by Toyota to test its electric powertrain in extreme circumstances. A lap time of 7 minutes 47.794 seconds has yet to be beaten, but that’s not surprising given that it’s basically a race car. Toyota’s upgraded TMG EV P002 was set to take on Pikes Peak Hillclimb this month, but forest fires have delayed the event.

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To further underscore the production-readiness of the R8 e-tron’s drivetrain, Audi set another record on the Nordschleife in addition to the single lap record time.

Immediately after the single lap time was set, Markus Winkelhock drove two fast laps in one go in a second R8 e-tron that was speed-limited to 125 mph. He recorded laps of 8:30.873 minutes and 8:26.096 minutes, both well under the important nine-minute threshold.

“The record drives were a fantastic experience for me,” said Markus Winkelhock. The 32-year-old, who won the Nürburgring 24-hour race a few weeks earlier. “Of course, the R8 e-tron is a production car, not a racing car with the assistance of aerodynamics,” Winkelhock emphasised.

“But with its low centre of gravity and rear biased weight distribution, it brings with it a lot of sporty qualities. The torque with which the electric motors propel the car uphill beats everything that I know – even if they make hardly any noise in the process, which at the start was really a completely new experience for me.”

“In places where I really need traction, the torque vectoring – the displacement of the torque between the powered wheels – really helped me.”