Audi Sport customer racing has further strengthened its presence in North America with the appointment of Bernd Goeres, who takes over in a new leadership position within the organization, as the German manufacturer expands its customer offerings to three different models for 2018.
Sportscar365 caught up with Goeres at Audi Sport customer racing’s end-of-season awards night in Neuburg earlier this month to get his thoughts on the year ahead, from GT4 and TCR car sales to the state of North American sports car racing.
What are the areas of focus for in 2018?
“We have the three cars now. First of all is the GT4 [car] and there’s a focus on this car, and then, of course, sustain the TCR business and move forward with good sales numbers on the TCR.
“We have a new agency in place that can take care of the business more, helping us to distribute the service and parts to customers. We are working together to get this business more direct to the customers and make them more happy about getting the parts and being there with our engineers and their engineers.
“In GT3, of course, we have the challenge that the car is great but it is a really professional car and we have to find the drivers and teams that can afford to drive in the different series. IMSA and Pirelli World Challenge are not cheap so it is much harder to bring people in.”
Will the TCR support be split off from Brad Kettler’s group?
“[Brad Kettler’s group] is working on the GT3 and GT4 side, and he cannot do all the TCR on top so we have somebody who already has a business relationship with VW so we can work together with them.
“The car is pretty similar so we can have synergies here and there and organize the business from a customer’s perspective to an agency that can really focus on this kind of customer and this car. This agency will focus only on TCR.”
What does the timeframe look for initial GT4 deliveries to customers?
The [initial five] customers will get the cars at the beginning of January. Every day, one car goes to the U.S. to be picked up by Brad Kettler and then he will do another service in the U.S. so the car is ready.
“The customers, on New Year’s Day or one or two days later can pick it up and bring it to the Roar and race and test it at the Roar.”
Have there been a lot of lessons learned from the GT4 car’s development in Europe?
“They’ve tested the car a lot and they have 30,000 testing kilometers with the car already. Since we have the GT3 and this is its little brother, we’ve put a lot of [what we’ve learnt] from the GT3 into that car, so now it has to prove its ability to be a proper race car on the track with wins. Only the wins count at the end of the day, so we hope the car will be successful.”
Are you excited to see the growth of GT4 with the influx of manufacturers?
“I am, because without them it’s not so interesting. If they all have GT4s in place, we have a second league now of competition and racing.
“It’s very good to bring customers into this kind of car who might have run the TCR before and move a step higher and go into GT4.
“The car is quite affordable for the customers and for a different kind of customer who cannot afford the GT3. The running costs are lower, the car price is lower, so we can get more attraction to this kind of motorsport.”
Has there been a good amount of interest in the Audi GT4 car?
“Our efforts now have to do with keeping this interest in the long run so in the next one, two or three years, people like the car and buy the car. But this has to do with wins which is really important.”
What have the Audi TCR sales numbers looking like for 2018?
“We’ve already sold almost 20 cars since the car was launched and we hope we can continue this sales number this year and next year so we have a really good solid base and we hope we can develop these customers into the next level.”
Are you at all concerned about the similar performance levels between the GS and TCR classes?
“They should be a little bit different. The TCR is very developed and has a high performance also.”