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Audi Targeting Factory Supported GTD Effort for Rolex 24

Audi targeting factory supported effort at next year’s Rolex 24…

Photo: IMSA

Photo: IMSA

With a win in the Nürburgring 24 and double podium finish in the 24 Hours of Spa, Audi could target success another twice-around-the-clock endurance classic with a ramped up program at Daytona next year.

The German manufacturer has revealed that it is evaluating a factory supported effort in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship season-opening Rolex 24 at Daytona, a race that will mark the U.S. debut of the new-generation Audi R8 LMS.

“I would like to yes, and with American teams,” Romolo Liebchen, Head of Audi Sport customer racing told Sportscar365. “In principle, I think it would be a good thing to do it like 2013.

“The discussion is done with Audi of America. Of course we’re talking with Paul Miller. I think the team’s development has been really good. They are successful and it’s very positive.

“Maybe there’s another team or two that might decide on an Audi.”

Audi’s last major U.S. works-supported GT effort came in 2013 with three GRAND-AM specification R8 LMS cars, all fielded by American teams.

It included Alex Job Racing, which took class honors with factory drivers Oliver Jarvis, Filipe Albuquerque and Edoardo Mortara, plus American racer Dion von Moltke.

Should the green light be given, Liebchen would expect a similar makeup for Daytona and the teams remaining on for the balance of the championship.

“I think there is interest,” he said on the potential of additional full-season entries next year. “There’s a real chance to have one or two new teams.

“In the end, I think we have to treat all customers in a similar way. This is always the goal. What I don’t like is to have a ‘factory’ team and they get the parts and better support.

“Here in Europe, we have a big number of cars so it’s a little different. But the teams really understand. They get the same parts and support, so it’s the same support.

“If [the factory supported] team is doing a good job, they get all the information about setup and data. We try to help them as much as we can.

“There are no secrets within the Audi family. This is different than some other brands.”

Liebchen, however, has ruled out seeing the European-based works-supported squads Phoenix Racing and WRT, which have been instrumental in the new car’s development, making one-off appearances in Daytona.

“They would like to but I prefer to have locals,” he said. “It’s not a good sign to show up with a European team to show the Americans how to do it. That’s completely the wrong way.

“I really hope we can find collaborations with U.S. teams and to support them we do the same way with Phoenix and WRT, and the same philosophy.”

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for and SPEED Channel and has contributed to numerous other motorsports publications worldwide. Contact John


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