Audi Sport has shuffled its driver lineups for next month’s Joburg Kyalami 9 Hour in order to maximize its chances of picking up both the Intercontinental GT Challenge drivers’ and manufacturers’ titles.
As was the case at the Indianapolis 8 Hour, the German manufacturer will support two entries from Team WRT and an Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo from Sainteloc Racing, alongside privateer efforts from the French squad and High Class Racing.
The trio of Markus Winkelhock, Patric Niederhauser and Christopher Haase, who won the Indy 8H with Sainteloc and sit second in the championship standings, however, have been partially split up, with Winkelhock moving over to the No. 37 WRT Audi alongside Nico Mueller and Kelvin van der Linde.
Mattia Drudi will take Winkelhock’s place in the No 25 Sainteloc entry with Neiderhauser and Haase, who along with Winkelhock sit just 2 points behind AF Corse’s Come Ledogar, Nicklas Nielsen and Alessandro Pier Guidi in the championship.
The third Audi Sport-supported entry will be driven by Frederic Vervisch, Dries Vanthoor and Charles Weerts. Both Vanthoor and Weerts are third in the IGTC standings and also have a chance of the drivers’ title.
“For this reason, we are maximizing our chances by combining our drivers to new lineups,” said Head of Audi Sport customer racing Chris Reinke.
“With three manufacturers titles and two drivers titles, we’re the most successful manufacturer in the history of the IGTC since 2016.
“Now we’re fighting for more titles on a particularly beautiful track. A success would be the crowning glory of an already very successful GT3 season.”
Audi currently leads the IGTC manufacturers’ championship by 36 points over Ferrari. With a maximum of 43 points up for grabs in South Africa, Audi can still win the title even if AF Corse finish 1-2 and one of the Audis is classified sixth or higher.
All three Audi Sport-backed entries will be sporting safari design liveries (pictured above).
The two other Audis entered for the race will be driven by Nicolas Baert, Simon Gachet, Lucas Legeret (Sainteloc) and Anders Fjordbach, Michael Markussen and Mark Patterson (High Class Racing, with support from WRT).