There had been loads of hypothesis relating to Audi Sport in 2022, with many citing the upcoming finish of the R8 supercar’s manufacturing as a sign that its buyer division could be wound up within the coming years.
The rumours got here towards the backdrop of different adjustments in Audi’s motorsport portfolio, with the under-development LMDh venture being axed and a brand new programme in Components 1 starting 2026 being introduced alongside its current manufacturing facility commitments within the Dakar Rally.
Nevertheless, there seems to be growing optimism throughout the Audi secure that it’s going to stay in GT racing, fuelled by the appointment of Rolf Michl as the pinnacle of Audi Sport on 1 September.
Michl has earlier expertise throughout the similar division and in addition to at Abt Sportsline, and is taken into account by many to be fitter for a motorsport function than his predecessor Julius Seedbach, who has since switched to Audi’s technical division.
In an interview with Autosport’s sister web site Motorsport-Complete.com, Attempto workforce boss Arkin Aka stated: “Audi has now created details. The important thing message on the [Hockenheim DTM] assembly was that Audi is dedicated to buyer sport. That is why every part is evident for us now.”
It’s understood that Audi’s long-time buyer racing head Chris Reinke got here below stress throughout Seedbach’s management, however has regained full management over the division following his departure.
Reinke is extremely regarded by groups and carries loads of expertise, having beforehand headed its highly-successful LMP1 programme below the stewardship of then-motorsport chief Wolfgang Ullrich.
Successor to the Audi R8
Audi just lately unveiled the ultimate V10-powered model of its R8 supercar because it begins to change focus to electrifying its fleet.
The R8 has fashioned the idea of its GT3 contender since 2009 and the marque just lately gave the automotive a facelift in 2022, with the up to date model going by the title of Audi R8 GT3 Evo II.
Whereas there’s nonetheless some uncertainty about how Audi will take care of the state of affairs, the German producer insists it has a number of choices on the desk past 2024, with or with out the R8.
“Now we have to outline a transparent perspective [on] the automotive we need to compete with,” Reinke informed Autosport.
“For the second we’re very lucky and have been for 15 years that we’ve got the R8 as a base, our iconic sportscar out of the Audi Sport manufacturing line.
“We might clearly be very lucky if the successor of no matter variety would carry comparable DNA to allow us to construct a brilliant robust race automotive. Alternatively, there are numerous prospects to deal with this example if sooner or later there could be no R8 anymore.”
Chris Reinke, Head of Audi Sport Buyer Racing
Picture by: Alexander Trienitz
In idea, Audi might lengthen the homologation of the R8 past 2024, however it’s unlikely that a producer of that scale wish to compete with an out-of-production automotive.
“I can homologate a GT automotive eight years after the tip of manufacturing,” defined Reinke. “The top of manufacturing is just not lastly communicated and determined but, however for positive it will not be this or subsequent 12 months. So, in idea, we might race a automotive till the start of the 2030s.
“I do know that there’s a lot of discuss it, however sure, we all the time need to be near an genuine product, we all the time need it to be the genuine high degree of a present product.
“Subsequently, we are going to take a look at what the manufacturing line-up goes to convey, and what we will undertake. However the lifeline of the R8 LMS model for us in racing classes is sort of infinite.”
Audi doesn’t have to essentially construct its subsequent GT3 automotive round a thoroughbred racer and may as a substitute go for a sedan as a base mannequin, just like rival producer BMW’s M4 GT3.
Nevertheless, if Audi decides to take this route and develop an all-new GT3 contender, it might take till 2026 till the automotive is prepared on the market to clients.
Reinke insists that Audi doesn’t should make a fast choice relating to the long-term way forward for Audi’s GT programme. However equally, he feels Audi has a duty in direction of its clients in offering some readability over what path the marque will take within the coming years.
“For the time being we really feel there’s a number of dialogue about Audi’s buyer racing future within the public,” he stated.
“We launched two very robust fashions with the Evo II on the GT3 aspect and the Gen2 on the TCR aspect, that are promoting overwhelmingly effectively and performing overwhelmingly effectively.
“Subsequently, it isn’t as excessive on our precedence listing because it could be from the surface.
“Alternatively, buyer racing means catering the purchasers and if the purchasers ask for solutions past 2025 it’s on us to ship, so we are going to attempt our highest to do this as quickly as attainable.”
#22 Audi Sport Group Automobile Assortment Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo 2: Christopher Haase, Nico Müller, Patric Niederhauser, René Rast
Picture by: Andreas Beil