After its successful first few races on an international stage, the new Audi R8 LMS is attracting a wealth of customer interest in North America.
While there are no closed deals as yet, Audi Sport customer racing director of operations and engineering, Brad Kettler, told Sportscar365 during the Mid-Ohio Pirelli World Challenge and IndyCar weekend that it’s double digits in terms of number of interested customers.
“In terms of closed deals, no… but in terms of interest, yes, there are probably between 12-15 people you can consider to be very interested,” Kettler said.
“It’s a wide variety of people. It ranges all the way from potential IndyCar people looking at making a move, to people we’ve never spoken to before.
“I can’t say we’ll sell (them) cars but they have knocked on the door, and have got the information.”
Kettler confirmed five new R8 chassis will be North American bound, to be delivered between late October and early November.
Most of those new cars will be for Daytona, Kettler said, so teams can prepare for the 2016 Rolex 24 at Daytona. That does not necessarily mean all cars headed to Daytona will be full-season TUDOR Championship entrants.
“Fundamentally, we will have five cars to deliver towards the end of this year,” Kettler said.
“More cars will be available afterwards. There’s a lot of interest.
“And it’s really a ripe playground right now for people buying GT3 cars, with so many new beautiful cars to choose from. There’s a lot of competition out there.”
The new R8 will be eligible to race in both the TUDOR Championship and Pirelli World Challenge, with Audi Sport customer racing support on site.
“We’ll support both of them, similar to what we’re doing now,” Kettler said. “We’re at almost 30 cars in the U.S. in three years. We’d like to see quite a few more.”
It’s expected the previous generation R8 LMS ultra will be grandfathered to both championships, although nothing formally has been announced.
“The current plan is for the current car to be eligible and to be grandfathered in for two years,” Kettler said.
“And it can still be quite a good car for another couple years. At the Spa 24-hour, it was led for several hours by the old car. It’s a fantastic car for teams just getting going.
“I don’t have the official documents, but the car under the right circumstances could be a GTA car for World Challenge and a TUDOR car with the right BoP stuff.”
Kettler also praised the steps taken by Karl Thomson’s Compass360 Racing, in partnership with Audi Sport customer racing, to see that program grow to include three Audi models (R8 LMS in TUDOR GTD, S3 in CTSC, TT-RS in PWC GTS).
“We had as a philosophy where we wanted to do this as a company, and along comes Karl who basically says he wants to do this as well,” he said. “There’s been a great amount of symbiosis and support.
“So much of this is based on product knowledge. The right kind of product knowledge allows you to help. We’ve helped him, and he does a great job in the public with the visualization of a ladder.”