Head of Audi Sport customer racing Chris Reinke says the German manufacturer is looking to “fight back” in this weekend’s California 8 Hours following a challenging start to its Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli title defense.
Audi enters the second round of the IGTC season in an uncharacteristic seventh in the manufacturers’ standings, after scoring just three points in Bathurst due to seperate issues for the pair of factory-backed Melbourne Performance Centre-run entries.
It has resulted in an uphill battle for the German manufacturer in its quest for a fourth consecutive title in the globe-trotting GT3 series, which has seen an influx of competition with a record eight registered brands for 2019.
Reinke, however, has kept a positive face on their championship outlook, noting that it was only one race of the newly-expanded five-round calendar.
“I think the excitement about racing has a lot to do with unexpectability,” he told Sportscar365.
“With the BoP, with the quality of the field and machinery on the grid in Bathurst, that was [a] given. Unfortunately, you can have accidents and technical issues and that hit us.
“Luckily for us, that rarely happens.
“Yes, we’re unfortunate to be in the situation we are in but it’s only one race into the championship and we came here to Laguna Seca to fight back and to leave here on a higher spot on the ranking than we came here.”
With veteran Audi squads WRT and Land Motorsport, which claimed victory in last year’s race, representing the brand this weekend, Reinke feels they are well-equipped for continued success in California.
Audi has been undefeated in IGTC competition at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca since the race’s debut in 2017, with clever strategy calls having paid dividends in both editions.
“I think we came very well prepared here,” Reinke said. “What we’ve seen so far, once again, similar to what we’ve seen in Bathurst and what we expected for here, we have a nice, tight field and a good mix of brands.
“After the first qualifying session we have five brands in top-five. We’re looking forward to an exciting race.
“When it comes to long run performance and strategy, we hope that we will have the upper hand on the competition.”
Evo Kit in the “Targeted Ballpark” at Laguna Seca
Reinke says Audi’s new-for-2019 Evo kit has been performing to its expectations at Laguna Seca.
Audi, along with Acura and Porsche, are giving its updated or all-new GT3 packages a debut run in IGTC this weekend, after the manufacturers were forced to run in previous-generation configurations at Bathurst.
“Obviously we have quite a lot of experience with the Evo kit already through the testing phase of last year,” Reinke said.
“It’s the first race of the [IGTC] season that we’ve introduced it. Therefore we have a great database already of what to expect and what to simulate and prepare for the races like here.
“We’re in the targeted ballpark for here. As we could see from the results so far this weekend, it’s where it needs to be.”