Absolute Racing is treating its factory-supported GT3 efforts with Audi and Porsche as “two separate teams” according to team principal Ingo Matter, who is expecting an “intense fight” for victory in Sunday’s Suzuka 10 Hours.
The Chinese squad, which finished on the podium in last year’s race with an Audi R8 LMS, has added a Porsche 911 GT3 R to its arsenal, both featuring all-factory driver lineups.
Markus Winklehock, Christopher Mies and Christopher Haase are at the wheel of the No. 125 Audi Sport Team Absolute entry, with Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour winners Dennis Olsen, Matt Campbell and Dirk Werner entrusted to the team’s No. 912 Porsche.
While it marks a unique situation in working directly with competing GT3 brands in the same race, Absolute has previous experience with dual-manufacturer programs in the GT Cup race at Macau, while also running customer Audi and Porsches in this year’s Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia season.
“We are quite experienced with it,” Matter told Sportscar365. “It’s not the first time.
“Obviously the first race we ever did was with an Audi, but also we were also involved with [Porsche] Carrera Cup [Asia] from day one. So we have a good relationship with both [manufacturers].
“We’re honored to have these drivers in the cars. But it’s two seperate teams.
“The Blancpain teams are completely seperate, so they’re more-or-less used to running by themselves.”
Matter said both programs have dedicated team and project managers and are run out of separate garages on pit lane.
Suzuka marks the biggest race weekend of the year for the team, which is also operating nine cars in the Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup that is serving as the Suzuka 10 Hours support series for the first time.
“Priority-wise, I think everything is important, to be fair,” Matter said. “You have the gentlemen drivers [in Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup], which is our core business.
“The advantage is that we have a big depth of people so nobody feels neglected. That’s the advantage.
“In Blancpain [GT World Challenge Asia] we run up to four Audis and three Porsches.
“This is a longer race, an endurance race, and we’re obviously in the lucky position to have these drivers from the manufacturers.
“It’s quite an honor but also quite a responsibility. We always want to be in front and that’s the goal.
“Obviously we are coming with quite a good feeling because we have the pace in Blancpain with the Audi and we’ve proved it with the Porsche also.
“It’s quite an intense fight within the teams.”
Absolute recently clinched the World Challenge Asia teams’ championship with its Porsche squad, with one race weekend still remaining in the season.
Matter: Blancpain GT Asia Helping Propel Teams to Success on Global Stage
While often overlooked in the global landscape, Matter believes that the recent string of success of several Asian-based teams can be traced to their roots in World Challenge Asia and other regional sports car racing series.
“Realistically this part of the world I don’t think gets the credit it deserves,” Matter said.
“When you look at IGTC this year, Earl [Bamber]’s team is an Asian team, HubAuto is an Asian team, GruppeM is an Asian team. If you call Dubai Asia, then it’s [GPX].
“So if you look at the past IGTC results, the Asian teams are not so bad!
“That’s why in Asia that some teams venture out to do international stuff, which is our aim, maybe not in the full [IGTC] season because we are a bit gentleman driver-driven.
“But we’re happy to do it when it makes sense.”