Head of Audi Sport customer racing Chris Reinke said a win in Sunday’s Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour, on the 10th anniversary of the German manufacturer’s first appearance at Mount Panorama, would be a “unique” experience.
Audi Sport customer racing heads into the Intercontinental GT Challenge season-opener with a total of five Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evos, including three factory-backed entries run by longtime partner Melbourne Performance Centre.
The manufacturer, which debuted the Audi R8 LMS to customer teams in 2010, helped kick start the GT3 era of the Australian enduro with back-to-back wins in 2011 and 2012 with Joest Racing and Phoenix Racing, respectively.
Audi’s third and most recent triumph on the Mountain came in 2018 with Audi Sport Team WRT, and despite ten years later, still remains the most successful GT3 manufacturer in the event’s history.
Reinke credits Audi’s early commitment to the GT3 platform in general for leading to its success at Bathurst.
“We were one of the manufacturers that very early committed into GT3 in general,” he told Sportscar365. “That included international races and one of them was here.
“We also committed early into Macau, Nürburgring, we worked hard for IMSA to accept it, GT3s, just because we were an early manufacturer committed to a GT3. This is part of what we feel we’ve supposed to create.
“We all have to build stages together. The commitment of Audi was quite early in GT3 and it worked out for us.
“We have more than 250 GT3 cars running worldwide and part of it because we started early and have been very authentic and very sustainable in that effort to commit into GT3.”
Reinke said the Australian market has been important to Audi from the onset, which made it a no-brainer to support Bathurst from a customer racing and marketing perspective.
“As a brand, and especially as a performance car brand, we have a good standing in Australia,” he said.
“I think Australia itself is very connected to performance cars for the road.
“There is a [uniqueness] in the market and to have a premium brand committed early to run a format which is accessible to customers is unique.
“Therefore we started off early building up volume with Melbourne Performance Centre, which is a clear partner with a long-term strategy and good support structure.
“It all builds up to a picture that makes it good success.”
Reinke: “A Lot of Reasons” to Push for Fourth Bathurst 12H Win
Audi is highly motivated to go for a record-extending fourth Bathurst 12H win according to Reinke, who stressed the importance to bank early season IGTC points as well.
The manufacturer left Bathurst with only three points on the board last year after a challenging race for the two MPC-run Audis.
“For sure to kick off the Intercontinental GT Challenge season with a win would be important,” Reinke said.
“Every win itself is always important. For us to win the anniversary race would be unique.
“There would be a lot of reasons to win it.”