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Words: Ryan Lewis. Photos: Mitch Hemming.

Say you had a few spare dollars kicking around in your bank account. Enough to buy a supercar and modify it to your heart’s content. What would you buy? I daydream about this stuff on a daily basis, and every car enthusiast I know is guilty of the same. None of those thoughts will ever make it out of my head, but for a few enviable people their imaginary wish lists actually take shape. That’s exactly how John’s Audi R8 dream machine came to be.

As a weekend toy the Audi R8 ranks up there with the best, even in standard form, but John was adamant from the beginning that his track car would have plenty of personal touches, all in the name of performance. “I was looking for a balanced platform to which I could add some power,” says John.

After purchase back in 2010, John started trawling through modification options, searching for the right way forward for his dream build. “That took about 12 months before I was ready to start the upgrades,” he says.

Coming from a background of hill climb racing, John understood the way each change would influence the final package; although he admits that he’s never owned anything like this before. “I wanted to be able to drive it to the track and then have some fun. I did not want to take the car out on a trailer, so one objective was to have it road legal,” explains John.

The main power-adder is a Performance Engineered Systems (PES) supercharger kit, sat atop the dry-sumped 4.2L FSI V8 motor. Turning to a shade under 8000rpm, the Audi now makes 550hp on 98 RON unleaded.

You’ll be hard pressed to find a more drool-inducing R8 ‘bay than this one. It packs a visual punch to go with the mountain of torque – 640Nm to be precise. “We have been working on it for just over 12 months. Not much to go now. Just some transmission and differential work to handle the torque.”

For thorough road and track performance John took to the Audi’s underpinnings with fervour. Upgraded suspension components have taken the slack out of the standard package, orientating the R8 towards its on-track objectives. KW Variant 3 coilovers prop up the body, with a hydraulic lift kit installed to help with clearance over speedhumps and driveways. OZ Racing Superforgiata wheels in 19in diameter look perfect at each corner, especially wrapped in Toyo R888 semi-slicks.

Daytona Grey bodywork is beautifully dressed up with carbon fibre features added to it. In this case the front splitter, rear diffuser, side skirts, GTC rear wing, side blades and rear panel are now carbon, as are the wing mirrors and the fins in front and rear vents. With GT tail lights at the back, there’s nothing else to do externally other than keep it washed and polished.

John has worked closely with City Performance Centre to get it where it is today. “The most important element is having an engineer working on your car that you can trust and I think I have that in Alessio at CPC. My focus and interest is the outcome and the excitement of driving, but in saying that I appreciate the improvements to the car and what has really changed in the way the car goes!”

Inside, the R8 is all class, well appointed from factory and enhanced with a few race car touches like the MoTeC dash and winged GT seats. John is all about the driving experience. Working with engineers from the United States and Europe, and even having a tuner from Germany assist with configuration has paid dividends as far as usability is concerned. “The car is not overwhelmed by the horsepower developed and it is a real joy to drive. Especially when you drive it fast! Power is available low down and extends right to the limiter,” John tells us.

“On the track it is outstanding! And yet on the street it can just burble along and not get noticed. At full song it is just a gem to drive. And did I say it was quick? Things happen very fast when the throttle is fully open!”

“I am not looking to get more horsepower from this engine as I think I am close to the hardware limits. It will now be taken to some track drive days to shake down the components and see how strong it is. Long term I plan to maintain it in much the form it is today and just enjoy a beautifully balanced mid-engine coupe that is a bit of a wolf under the skin,” says John.

John would like to thank: “All the staff at City Performance Centre have been excellent help in this work. Alessio has provided straight talking advice to help keep expectations in line with reality. Sam has helped with understanding ECU errors and much more along the way. All the other guys at CPC are very helpful and care about what they do which is important in this kind of activity. Call CPC on 02 9437 6077 and ask for Alessio.”


– 2008 Audi R8

– 4.2L FSI quad-cam V8

– PES Whipple screw-type supercharger kit
– PES exhaust system
– 300psi fuel pump
– Aquamist water/meth injection

– R-tronic six-speed transmission

– KW Variant 3 coilovers
– KW Hydraulic Lift System
– Ceramic brake upgrade

– OZ Racing Superforgiata
– Toyo Proxes R888 F: 235/40/19, R: 305/30/19

– Carbon fibre front splitter, rear diffuser, side skirts, side blades, rear panel, vent fins and wing mirrors
– GTC carbon rear wing
– GT tail lights
– Ceramic exhaust tips
– OziCozi film protection

– Audi winged GT seats
– MoTeC CDL 3 digital dash
– GT alcantara steering wheel

– 550hp, 640Nm