German manufacturers involved in Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli are set to face clashes with two rounds of ADAC GT Masters next year, a situation that Audi Sport is “very much challenged by” according to its customer racing boss Chris Reinke.
All six of Audi’s full-season IGTC drivers took part in the German GT3 sprint race championship this year, including GT Masters champion Kelvin van der Linde, who like his fellow factory drivers, could be forced to choose one championship over the other in 2020.
Next year’s Suzuka 10 Hours currently clashes with the GT Masters round at Zandvoort in late August, while the season finale at Saschsenring falls on the same weekend as SRO Motorsports Group’s new Indianapolis 8 Hours event.
The clashes are expected to also impact drivers from Mercedes-AMG and Porsche as well, with Maxi Goetz having undertaken both championships this year along with selected GT Masters outings from fellow full-season IGTC drivers Maro Engel, Luca Stolz and Matt Campbell.
“We as a brand are very deeply involved in ADAC GT Masters and obviously have a lot of drivers there with commitments,” Audi’s Reinke told Sportscar365.
“If we have international races clashing with that, it puts attention on us. What what we do with our driver lineups?
“This is something we’re very much challenged by at the moment and we hope we can solve it other by splitting the lineups.”
While Reinke said dialogue is ongoing between ADAC and SRO for possible resolutions, SRO founder and CEO Stephane Ratel told Sportscar365 that any changes to the IGTC calendar are unlikely.
“It’s difficult,” he said. “I understand with the ADAC. We have a very good relationship with them.
“They have already made a major effort of avoiding clashes with ten [GT World Challenge Europe] rounds, which is really what the teams want because many teams run both.
“The problem with Intercontinental is that there’s a number of factory drivers being spread around in ADAC. It’s a problem and we’ve looked at it in detail.”
Ratel said the Aug. 23 date for Suzuka cannot be moved due the event’s promoter, Mobilityland, although options have been explored for the Indianapolis event, which is currently set for Oct. 4.
“The big problem we have in Indianapolis where we were asked if we could put it back by a week, but that would mean we clash with Petit Le Mans, which is simply impossible,” Ratel said.
“If we wanted to put it earlier, we would [be too tight] on transportation because we have some cars coming from Suzuka and they have to go across the Pacific, be on the train and get to Indianapolis. It’s quite a big journey for the containers.
“On top of that, if we put it earlier, we would be clashing with Barcelona [GT World Challenge Europe], which for some of the teams like WRT and others, would be a drama. So we’d need to change Barcelona.
“I’m doubtful we could change Barcelona.
“So we looked at every possibility and there’s a big problem.”
While hinting that ADAC could look to solve the August clash, Ratel said manufacturers will likely have to make a choice on where they send their drivers for the October weekend.
“If it was at the beginning of the year, it would have been a drama,” he said. “If it’s the end of the year, the manufacturer can decide which drivers are where.
“If they’re running for victory in Intercontinental, then they may favor Intercontinental. If they’re running in favor of ADAC, they may favor ADAC.
“I think at the end, it’s the last race of the year, I think it’s possible to adjust.
“We can’t be clashing with Petit Le Mans. And Indiana is not like California and it starts to get [too cold]. Everyone’s already saying October could have bad weather [in Indianapolis].
“We’ve already had our share of bad weather this year. Let’s try to be sensible.”
Reinke, however, is still holding out hope a solution can be found by both organizers.
“With ADAC and Intercontinental Challenge, I know everyone is willing to find a compromise and I hope that we do so,” he said.
“This is the challenge we have to somehow tackle. We did commit to have full season entries in IGTC, but clearly those kind of clashes put us on the edge.
“We will bring cars [to the IGTC races] but I can’t say what kind of drivers there will be.”