Monochrome Watches
An online magazine dedicated to fine watches
The Petrolhead Corner

The Bonkers ABT XGT is a Hardcore Racing R8… With a License Plate

The legendary German tuner and race car builder has built the R8 Audi won't.

| By Robin Nooy | 8 min read |

For close to two decades now, the R8 has been Audi’s poster child sports car, with a sleek design and performance to back it all up. It’s even sparked quite a successful racing career through the factory team but also plenty of privateers. But what if you want something that’s suitable for both the road and track? What happens if you envision a racing car but with license plates? What happens if you brief a team of engineers to build exactly that, a “race car for the road”? The ABT XGT, that’s what happens!

The concept isn’t exactly new, and plenty of manufacturers have bragged about using racing tech in a road car. Cars like the McLaren F1, Ferrari F50, Mercedes-AMG One or the Aston Martin Valkyrie are all said to be race-derived cars and it’s actually true, but none were built as a racing car and then converted to a road car. They ‘just’ use racing technology or even complete engines built for racing in a car that is intended for road use in the end. Which is a very different thing, as the ABT XGT perfectly demonstrates.

Ad – Scroll to continue with article

The Audi R8 platform

It’s hard to imagine, and there’s no way to sugarcoat it, but the Audi R8 sports car has been around for almost 20 years already! It’s based on the Audi Le Mans Quattro concept car, which in itself was a celebration of the brand’s three successive wins at the famous 24-hour endurance race of 2000, 2001 and 2002. For the development of the eventual road car, introduced in 2006, Audi relied on the platform of the Lamborghini Gallardo (and nowadays the Huracán). This was nothing unexpected, considering the fact Lamborghini has been part of the Volkswagen Group since 1998 which Audi also belongs to.

The 2006 Audi R8 –

The R8 was supposed to be discontinued in 2023, but continued demand has extended its production run for the foreseeable future. Initially, it was offered with a 4.2 litre V8 from Audi or the 5.2 litre V10 from the Lamborghini Gallardo (essentially also an Audi product), with both manual or automatic transmissions being made available. The car itself is largely constructed using lightweight materials such as aluminium and carbon fibre for both the body and chassis. Produced in coupe and roadster form, the first-generation Type 42 R8 was updated in 2012 and eventually replaced by the Type 4S R8 with a sharper and more aggressive design. Even though plenty of styling or performance variations have been built, the general concept has remained the same: a two-seater sports car with all-wheel drive and a powerful engine in the middle.

The R8 road car, much like the Le Mans Prototype it was named after, also proved a very suitable platform for GT-type racing series, with a factory program and multiple privateers taking it to victory around the world. One of the most prolific racing outfits to have used the R8 in racing, among a sleuth of other Audi cars, is ABT Sportsline.

ABT Sportsline

The story of ABT, both the tuning side and the motor racing side, can be traced back to 1896 when blacksmith Johann Baptist Abt founded Auto-Abt. Around that time, Mr Abt invented a sledge-like carriage to make transportation in the harsh winter times a bit easier. This almost literally coincided with the production of the first cars, and as such, the businesses have always intertwined. When Johann Abt, grandson to the company’s founder took to racing in the 1950s, he essentially laid the groundwork for the company as we know it today. By 1967, ABT Tuning was founded, focussing on enhancing the performance of cars. ABT is the largest tuner for cars built by the Volkswagen Audi Group and continuously works on newer, faster and better road and racing cars.

The entire Abt family is involved with the business, as it’s currently managed by Hans-Jürgen Abt, with brother Christian Abt being a rather talented racing driver, competing at Le Mans and in the DTM racing series, for instance. ABT Sportsline, the official name of the company’s racing department, is one of the most respected and successful racing teams in GT-type racing. To date, it has competed in more than 300 DTM races, claiming over 250 podium finishes and dozens of victories. In recent years, this DTM racing adventure has relied on the Audi R8, but in the past, the team also ran racing cars based on the Audi TT and Audi A4. All this serves as the perfect foundation for the company’s latest project: the bonkers ABT XGT!

The XGT, a road-legal GT2 car

When car manufacturers claim that a car is a “racing car for the road”, it’s usually something to be taken with a grain of salt. But what ABT has done with the XGT is quite literally convert an Audi R8 LMS GT2 racing car, slap on a pair of license plates and call it a day. Of course, some other changes had to be made to comply with road safety regulations, but in essence, this is one of the purest race-to-road-car conversions imaginable. The idea started with Thomas Biermaier, Managing Director for ABT Sportsline and Ernst Christian Sherer, Managing Director of Sherer Sport (a business partner of ABT), to use the racing R8 LMS GT2 as a base for a road car with only the bare minimum in changes.

The Audi R8 LMS GT2 in itself is possibly the ultimate racing version of the fabled R8 to date and was introduced in 2019 as a racing car for customers and privateer racing teams to buy and campaign. Its 5.2 litre V10 was pushed to 640 horsepower, making it the most powerful R8 LMS in the process. The most important clue is in the name, as the car was built to comply with FIA GT2 regulations, but it’s also suitable as a track day car. Just be careful, as you will likely blow the doors off most of the others on track!

The conversion from racing car to road legal took almost two years to complete, with over 40 individual approvals needing to be checked. This includes details such as the fuel management system, thermal management system, vehicle diagnostics system, modifying the instrument cluster for civilian use, installing a handbrake and reversing camera and so on. Airconditioning was fitted, as well as electronically adjustable mirrors, indicators and a special exhaust system to fulfil emissions specifications. When all this was said and done, one was crashed on purpose to make sure it was structurally safe enough to hit the road.

After all this work, it was essential to the crew that the sole of the R8 LMS GT2 remained untouched as much as possible. ABT really wanted to retain the race car side of it and has succeeded in doing so not only aesthetically but also technically. The 5.2 litre V10 engine pumps out 640 horsepower, all sent to the rear wheels only through a 7-speed S-Tronic transmission. It’s fitted with Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R tyres, forged ABT rims with centre locking wheel nuts, and slightly altered suspension components, but that’s about it. Oh, and you need to put in 98-octane or higher in the tank, otherwise, you’ll ruin the engine. All the rest is pure racing car, from the steering wheel to the aggressive aero kit with a huge wing on the back. The car weighs 1,400kgs, which is relatively low for such a car. Performance-wise, you’ll be looking at a top speed of 310kph or lower, depending on the setting of the adjustable rear wing. But in all honesty, this is not built as a straight-line monster but purely to get as fast as possible around corners. Given ABT’s experience and expertise and the base for the XGT, that is pretty much a given.

From left to right: Ernst Christian Scherer (Scherer Motorsport), with Thomas Biermaier and Hans-Jürgen Abt (ABT Sportsline).

ABT will only build 99 of these mad machines, costing EUR 599,200 including VAT each, and they will be distributed and serviced solely by Scherer Sport, a long-standing partner for ABT’s road and racing cars. The XGT is on display in the ABT XGT showroom of Scherer Sports in Mainz, approx. 20 minutes from the Frankfurt airport. Customers have a choice of four colour programs, with bespoke options being on the table, too, but that will inflate the price even more. However, knowing the deep pockets of the clientele for these cars, that will likely not be an issue. The bigger issue is to make sure you have some clean underpants with you when you start hammering down the road in this crazy cool machine! Because by the looks of it, it will be a mad, mad ride!

For more information on ABT or the wild XGT, please visit or

Editorial Note: The information and images in this article are sourced from and used with permission by ABT Sportsline unless stated otherwise.

Leave a Reply