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We usually pay for our own travel expenses, but in this case Audi provided flights to New York City and two nights’ accommodation. While we have paused all sponsored travel opportunities at this time, this event took place in July before that moratorium began.

SALISBURY, Conn.—Success on the racetrack doesn’t sell cars like it used to. That said, plenty of car companies still go racing. And it’s not just a marketing exercise; it remains an engineering one, too. Competition breeds ingenuity, and a motorsports department is like a skunk works that can add a halo to a mundane car or turn an already good one all the way to 11. BMW has M. Mercedes-Benz has AMG. Volvo (yes, that Volvo) has Polestar. And Audi has Audi Sport.

We were quite smitten with Audi Sport’s handiwork when we tested the R8 this summer, but, given that car’s bones, it was bound to impress. Finding out what Audi Sport’s engineers can do with more modest beginnings was the reason we headed up to Lime Rock Park, a scenic race track a couple of hours north of New York City. Well, that, plus we were promised a hot lap with racing legend Hans Stuck in the driver’s seat.

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