Audi is gearing up to defend its overall victory at last year’s Nürburgring 24 Hours race, announcing today that it will have eight of its 2013-spec R8 LMS ultra race cars competing this year.

Most of the cars will be fielded by private teams, though two of the cars, #14 and #15, will be fielded as part of the automaker’s “race experience” program, and car #4 is being fielded by factory-backed team Audi Sport Team Phoenix.

It was Audi Sport Team Phoenix that secured the overall victory at last year’s event.

All eight Audi R8 LMS ultra race cars will be running in the current FIA-homologated 2013 technical specification. They are similar to last year’s car, though come with more aerodynamic side mirrors, a revised rear wing and an optimized exhaust system.

Output is rated at 562 horsepower and “more than” 368 pound-feet of torque, and is delivered by a racing version of the R8 V10 model’s 5.2-liter engine. Drive is sent to the rear wheels only, via a six-speed sequential gearbox with a triple-plate racing clutch.

The wheels are 18-inch forged aluminum pieces and are shod with Michelin tires.

The minimum weight of the car, according to regulations, is 1,250 kilograms (2,755 pounds).

In total, entries for 179 cars have been submitted for the 2013 Nürburgring 24 Hours, with 33 of these competing in the GT3 category. This year’s race takes place on the weekend commencing May 19.