The next victim in the fallout from the VW emissions crisis appears to be Audi’s hugely successful GT racing program, with official support in the two key GT3 endurance races set to be slashed this year.
Endurance-Info has learned that the German manufacturer is likely to feature a reduced factory presence in both the Total 24 Hours of Spa and Nürburgring 24, with only two works-supported entries instead of the previous four cars spread across two teams.
Belgian Audi Club Team WRT and Phoenix Racing both entered a pair of new Audi R8 LMS cars last year, with WRT claiming victory at the Nürburgring and two of the official cars placing on the overall podium at Spa.
According to Romolo Liebchen, Head of Audi Sport customer racing, the focus in 2016 will be largely on customers teams in both races.
“All is not yet completed but it’s heading towards a reduction in official efforts at the Nürburgring and Spa,” Liebchen told Endurance-Info. “We will build on our customer teams that will shine [in the] Audi R8 LMS in these two classics.”
It’s unclear if Audi will designate its support to only one team, or possibly one car from each WRT and Phoenix.
Nearly 50 of the new R8 LMS cars are expected to be in action between GT3 championships worldwide and the Audi R8 LMS Cup this year, marking a amount of customer interest for the new-generation sports car.
Audi’s poised reduced works-supported GT effort follows a joint decision by Porsche and Audi to field only two factory LMP1 cars each in this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, which has has been attributed to budget cuts within the Volkswagen Group.