LMDh “ticks a lot of boxes” for Audi, although customer racing boss Chris Reinke stressed that it’s “too early to say” whether the German manufacturer would actively evaluate such a program.
Announced last month, the new ACO-IMSA joint prototype platform has attracted interest from numerous manufacturers, including several brands within the Volkswagen Group.
For Audi, which exited LMP1 competition in 2016, a return to top-level prototype racing would rekindle one of the most successful dynasties in modern-day sports car racing.
Reinke, who headed Audi’s LMP1 program until taking up a job as Head of customer racing in early 2016, said a return would hinge on a number of factors.
“At the moment it’s too early to say,” Reinke told Sportscar365. “We’ll for sure look into it and are interested.
“It’s more than just an announcement that these two regulations will merge. I think it was a realization of what we’ve dreamed of, with future technology, is promoted in endurance racing.
“What we have seen in the last era at Le Mans, that these days are over.
“Future technologies for road cars these days are hard to promote or to develop in endurance racing.
“Therefore I think it was a tremendous and important step that regulations have been confirmed that are more budget-driven.”
Reinke said the decision for a mandatory spec hybrid system, which has still yet to be detailed, would be Audi’s “main topic” along with the possibility of the platform working for customer racing.
“Obviously how Audi approaches it, electric drivetrains is the main topic for us,” he said.
“We have that in Formula E but in a sprint format. So we still follow to play our DNA in motorsport but not in endurance racing at the moment.
“Because of the hybrid aspect, it’s the technology of the here and now. It’s something we cannot position in other categories in our portfolio.
“Therefore it is a unique formula that we have accessible at the moment and that makes it interesting.
“If there might be a possibility to build a customer racing platform out of it — I do have my doubts at the moment — for sure we’ll have a look into it.
“It is intercontinental and includes a hybrid and will be accepted by many brands.
“It will include going for very dominant titles: Daytona, Le Mans, overall wins. Therefore it ticks a lot of boxes of interest.
“If that is enough to be interesting for Audi, it [remains] to be seen but we won’t leave any niche unexplored.”
LMDh Won’t Be Replacement for DTM
Reinke said that a potential LMDh program for Audi wouldn’t serve as a replacement for DTM, as the German touring car series, which faces an uncertain future due to the withdrawal of R-Motorsport’s Aston Martins, caters to a specific market.
“The strategy of Audi never was that if something gets dropped we need to have to keep the people busy,” Reinke said. “It needs to have a logical scope.
“The existence of DTM, that will stop us considering LMDh… It is without influence.
“The scope of DTM is to go head-to-head in our home country against our main rivals on the road, which is BMW, before Mercedes and Aston Martin.
“That’s the scope there and that would never be the scope for LMDh.”