Head of Audi Sport customer racing Chris Reinke says the challenge of Macau is what brings Audi Sport customer racing back to the event each year, despite the financial risks it presents.
The German manufacturer is supporting four Audi R8 LMS cars in this weekend’s FIA GT World Cup, as it seeks to claim its second title in the last three years at the legendary Guia Circuit.
Laurens Vanthoor took a WRT-prepared Audi to victory in 2016, albeit ending the race on his roof, following a carnage-filled Main Race that saw only four laps completed.
It was followed up by massive pileup in the opening lap of last year’s Qualifying Race that collected nearly two-thirds of the field and left only eight finishers.
While the street race, which has been FIA’s designed GT World Cup since 2015, has come under fire in recent years for the number of incidents and lack of running time, Reinke insists that Macau remains a key event in the GT racing world.
“For us, it’s a unique event and a unique track,” Reinke told Sportscar365.
“Yes, it hurts on the budget side, but for me, if you’re desperate for stories to be told for heritage to be created for unique things… That’s why we go to the Nürburgring and that’s why I don’t have a problem going to Macau.
“If we only go to Austin, Texas, it’s a perfect track, but does it have any DNA? No.
“If we say we don’t want to live through boring motorsport, we have to go to Laguna Seca, Macau and the Nürburgring.
“When it hurts once in a while, either you’re up for the [challenge]… or you stay home.
“We piled up big time last year and yet we still come back. Macau is unique and we want to be part of it.”
Audi’s Robin Frijns, who as a Macau rookie finished second in last year’s race, returns in one of two Team WRT Speedstar-entered Audis alongside Dries Vanthoor, who makes his race debut.
Fellow factory driver Christopher Haase, who is also set for his first outing on the street circuit, will be in Audi Sport Team Rutronik’s entry, with a privateer R8 LMS for Adderly Fong being fielded by Chinese outfit Zun Motorsport Crew.
WTCR Finale Boosts Audi’s Numbers in Macau
A total of 14 Audis will be taking part this weekend, thanks to the WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup, which will see ten Audi RS 3 LMS TCR cars present.
It includes four ‘wild card’ entries for local Chinese entrants, in addition to the six season-long entries.
“We are delighted that the strong commitment of our customers is making Audi’s largest lineup to date in Macau possible. This shows how well we have established ourselves on the Asian market,” Reinke said.
“Now we can hardly wait for the chase through the street canyons to begin.”