C360R has confirmed plans to enter the new TCR class in the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge next year, expanding its commitment to the series with a total of four entries across two classes.
Team owner Karl Thomson has revealed to Sportscar365 that it will field a pair of Audi RS 3 LMS cars in the new-for-2018 class, alongside its existing McLaren 570S GT4 entries, which are set to return for next year.
The Toronto-based team is the first to officially commit to the TCR class in IMSA, which was confirmed in June as an additional category alongside the existing GT4-based GS class and ST categories.
“We’re really excited about having TCR as part of the Continental Tire Challenge next season,” Thomson told Sportscar365.
“Obviously we’re having really good success with that car elsewhere this year and it’s given us a good opportunity to evaluate the platform.
“The car is a really nice piece; it comes great from the factory. The support has been great from Audi.
“I think it’s a natural evolution for both us as a team and also for the series.
“We’re really enjoying the GT4 experience with the McLarens and another factory car makes a lot of sense, and continuing with Audi make some sense for us as well.”
Having given the car its North American debut in Pirelli World Challenge TC competition this year, the team has quickly achieved success with Audi’s TCR contender, with a pair of wins with Paul Holton, in what’s largely been a development year in coming to grips with the emerging global touring car platform.
Thomson, who said they already have driver lineups finalized for one McLaren GT4 and Audi TCR each, said there’s been a high level of interest for the cars in the Continental Tire Challenge and is hopeful of a competitive grid next year comprised of multiple manufacturers.
The team, meanwhile, will put its two self-built Audi S3 cars up for sale, with its focus turning exclusively to the two global platforms for 2018 and beyond.
“[The Audi TCRs are] great turn-key race cars,” Thomson said. “And that makes our job so much easier because we’re not building them; we’re going testing and learning about them. That’s the big difference that we had with the McLaren.”
With a number of other projects in the pipeline, Thomson believes a grid of between 12-16 TCR cars could be achievable next year.
“If you take a look at some of the TCR International races, the competition is really solid,” he said. “The question is who is going to bring some of those cars over here?
“We’ve heard some rumors of the Alfa coming. Honda has announced HPD will support the [Civic Tye R]. I’ve heard some rumors of a Subaru and certainly Mazda and Ford are rumored. There’s also the Mini and VW too.
“I think it’s just a question of who is going to step up and run those different cars. As much as I like the Audi, I’d like to see a big mix and competing.”