Head of Audi Sport customer racing Chris Reinke said they opted not to continue as a manufacturer in Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli after being unable to secure Pro class entries for the full season.
The German brand, a four-time IGTC manufacturers’ champion, has elected to forgo the globe-trotting GT3 series for the first time in its eight-year history, although will still have a factory-supported presence in at least two of the five rounds this year.
It includes this weekend’s Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour, where Audi has brought six of its factory drivers, including an all works-driven Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo II, to Melbourne Performance Centre’s multi-car lineup.
While still fighting for the overall win at Bathurst, its drivers as well as the manufacturer, will not be eligible to score IGTC points, which will be for registered cars from BMW, Mercedes-AMG and Porsche only.
Reinke confirmed a focus around the Nürburgring 24 and CrowdStrike 24 Hours of Spa for its so-called ‘strategic’ factory-supported entries this year, in addition to Bathurst.
“After many years of great success in Intercontinental GT Challenge, we decided to have a different focus this year,” he told Sportscar365.
“We will look more into the 24-hour races, into the main events in Europe for the moment.
“It doesn’t mean that we will [not be present] at Intercontinental Challenge events itself. Bathurst is a very important race to be here.
“I expect customer cars to enter Kyalami. For sure we expect and plan to have a strong showing in Spa and then as we continue to take it on a race-by-race attitude; we said we’d focus for the moment on the [key] races.
“If we have a strategic focus we take the 24-hour races and therefore opted this year to not sign up for IGTC.”
Reinke said Audi was not able to commit to supporting all-pro lineup entries at each race this year, leading to the decision.
The manufacturer had missed only one race — last year’s Indianapolis 8 Hour — in the seven years of IGTC races prior to the 2023 season.
“If we signed up, we would be at every event with a pro lineup,” Reinke said. “This is what I take as an attitude of Audi Sport customer racing as we’ve done in the past.
“Even though when we’ve been out of conjunction of any championship we would always race to the end, we would always stand up to our word.
“This year, I couldn’t secure it so therefore we didn’t sign up.”
Reinke said he wouldn’t rule out a return to full-season IGTC competition in 2024 although indicated it’s too soon to make commitments.
The Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo II platform is currently confirmed through the end of next year.
“If we do something and sign up for it, we go the full way,” Reinke said. “If we cannot commit the full way, then we state it up front and don’t excuse ourselves later on.
“We walk our talk. If we don’t sign up, it doesn’t mean we don’t make it happen but if we sign up and commit, we will make it happen and I couldn’t secure it this year around.”