Audi is hopeful of having a continued presence in the GT Daytona category of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship beyond next month’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring according to head of customer racing Chris Reinke, who confirmed ongoing discussions with customer teams.
So far, the German manufacturer has a single Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo confirmed for Sebring, to be run by WRT Speedstar, with an extension of the Belgian-Canadian program unclear at this point.
It comes after a challenging 2019 season in the WeatherTech Championship for Audi Sport customer racing that saw both of its planned full-season teams end their programs early due to unrelated reasons.
An accident at Watkins Glen by Moorespeed led to the team’s mid-season withdrawal while Starworks Motorsport battled various issues and only contested six races prior to a switch to LMP2 for 2020.
While it has been Audi’s goal to have a full-time presence in the WeatherTech Championship, Reinke said they’re unable to force it due to the intended customer aspect of the GTD class.
“We’re customer racing. It is our goal to support customers and obviously we love to see that all major [GT3] series and have an Audi on the grid,” Reinke told Sportscar365.
“Unfortunately, in IMSA we had a lot of customers who tried to commit to an Audi and it didn’t work out.
“We have WRT, which has committed for the first two races. I think they won’t mind doing a complete season but at the moment are committed to the first two.”
WRT team principal Vincent Vosse told Sportscar365 that a decision on additional WeatherTech Championship races beyond Sebring will likely be made after that race, but has already ruled out a full-season effort for this year.
“We cannot really confirm any other races than Sebring, yet,” Vosse said. “It’s not fully in my hands so it’s difficult to say.
“Today, we are concentrating on what we do in Sebring and we’ll go for the best result.
“I hope the result will bring further involvement but I cannot say it is only on results, on a positive or negative side. Let’s say, if we do well in Sebring, it doesn’t mean that we will do the rest of the season.”
Potential New Customer for Sprint Cup Races
Reinke added that they have “at least one” customer who is interested in doing the WeatherTech Sprint Cup, which Sportscar365 understands to potentially be Rick Ware Racing.
The longtime NASCAR team, which was due to run a Riley Mk. 30 Gibson LMP2 car this year prior to its withdrawal from last month’s Rolex 24 at Daytona, confirmed that it is working on a Sprint Cup program that would debut at Long Beach.
While acknowledging their plans, Cody Ware declined to comment when asked by Endurance-Info specifically about running an Audi.
Reinke added: “My hope is that we have an Audi on the grid at all of the races but nothing to be confirmed at the moment. But the hope is there.”
Jake Kilshaw & David Bristol contributed to this report