The Audi R8 V10 has been named official safety car of the Rolex 24 at Daytona for the second year in a row. It will lead the field for the debut race of the new TUDOR United SportsCar Championship this weekend.

The R8 V10 safety car will have more than a little in common with some of the cars on the grid. Five Audi R8 LMS racers will be fielded at Daytona this year, and they have 50 percent parts commonality with the stock car, Audi says.

Both versions feature a 5.2-liter V-10, which produces 525 horsepower and 391 pound-feet of torque in stock form. Coupled to the seven-speed S-tronic dual-clutch transmission, it can propel the stock R8 V-10 to 60 mph in 3.4 seconds. There's also a V-10 Plus model with 550 hp that can do 0 to 60 mph in 3.3 seconds.

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Audi not only paced last year's Daytona 24-hour race, it also won. This year, though, things will work differently. This year's race is the first run under the combined TUDOR United SportsCar Championship banner, the result of a merger between the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) and Grand Am. In its effort to consolidate American road racing, the United SportsCar Championship will feature a mix of classes taken from its two predecessors.

There will be a total of five classes. The top Prototype (P) class will feature ALMS P2, Daytona Prototype, and DeltaWing cars. Below that is Prototype Challenge (PC), made up of ex-ALMS LMPC cars.

The top production class will be GT Le Mans (GTLM), for ALMS GTE cars. The Audi R8s will race in the GT Daytona (GTD) class, which consists of both Grand AM GT and ALMS GTC cars. At the bottom of the pecking order is GX, a carryover class from the 2013 Grand Am series.

Practice begins Friday afternoon; the race itself will get underway at 2:30 p.m. Eastern on Saturday, and end 24 hours later on Sunday.


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