Audi’s new RS 3 LMS car is likely to make its North American debut in Pirelli World Challenge next year, with Audi Sport customer racing boss Chris Reinke targeting long-term growth with the TCR platform.
The car, which made its race debut in last month’s VLN round at the Nürburgring, is poised to be on the World Challenge TC class grid next year, building up to the planned full integration of the global touring car platform into the sprint race championship by 2018.
“When we talk about impressive market potential, at the moment, we’re overwhelmed with the situation we face with TCR,” Reinke told Sportscar365. “It’s had overwhelming feedback. We’re looking into great numbers to have out in the first year in the market.
“It would be my absolute desire to have a few cars in the States, in Pirelli World Challenge specifically.”
Longtime Audi customer C360R is among the teams in the mix to campaign the first batch of RS 3 LMS cars for the U.S. market, with the Karl Thomson-owned squad currently working on a TC program.
“Our intention is to run one or two of those cars but we have to see how the pieces fall,” Thomson told Sportscar365.
“I think TCR, as a global package, like GT3 and GT4, is a really smart way for us to go because guys can go out and buy [existing cars]. What we need is more manufacturers that are selling in America, like Audi. We need to build on that.
“We’re fully behind TCR, in knowing that we’ll bring it in over time.”
Thomson, whose team will again return to the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge next year, also sees IMSA embracing the TCR platform, but not likely in the short-term.
The current GT4/GS and ST regulations are locked in for the next two years, but with the possibility of TCR making its debut, as a new class, in 2018.
“If we run through the [ST] cars through the end of 2018, and then in 2019 it’s GT4 and TCR, that’s a nice transition,” he said.
Reinke, meanwhile, is hopeful of seeing the RS 3 LMS on the Continental Tire Challenge grid sooner, although no decision has been made.
“We’ve had the various dialogues with IMSA but have no additional explanation other to what’s out in the public that it is being reviewed for 2018,” Reinke said. “Also on that side, we hope to get a possibility, maybe even earlier, with some kind of BoP to field cars into the Continental Tire Series even earlier.
“This is my hope but it’s nothing I can confirm at the moment.”