Head of Audi Sport customer racing Chris Reinke has praised the removal of Pro class entries from the GT World Challenge America as a “brave and confident move”.
Organizers took the decision to remove the Pro class after low car counts this year and re-focus SRO Motorsports America’s top-tier series on Pro-Am entires along with Silver and Am classes.
The bold move, which SRO founder and CEO Stephane Ratel says will allow him to “find the key in America”, has divided opinion but Reinke sees it as the right decision even if it doesn’t pay off initially.
“For the championship in general, I believe it’s the right move,” he said. “For the moment, I believe it will disrupt a bit, but for me that is a mid-term vision which will make sense.
“I think it is a brave and confident move that you accept the disruption in the market to have mid-term profit out of it.
“To support those guys who, most of the time, finance the paddock, it’s so they can win races.
“Talking as the head of customer racing, this is what we do as well. First, the customer has to be happy and then we see what kind of package we can build to put him on the performance level he wants to achieve, he admires, he can afford.”
Despite this support, Reinke says there is no conscious effort from Audi’s side to have a GT3 car in GT World Challenge America but that Audi remains ready to support potential customers.
This follows Audi Sport’s rather hands-off approach with regards to its customer programs, as Reinke frequently stresses decisions on what cars are run where are entirely made by its customers.
“We are in standby to support customers who decide to enter in the U.S.,” he said.
“Is it with technical engineering staff, is it with spare trucks that we make spare parts accessible at the track to keep the investment volume down for the teams and keep the running costs at bay?
“We are ready to do it but at the end, it’s the customer who decides.
“For sure, our focus is on IMSA, where we had tremendous success in the GT4 class this year and good results in TCR. We have been falling short of our own expectations on the GT3 side so that is, for sure, ground to be made up.”
Nevertheless, Reinke admits that he hopes that a customer will decide to run an Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo in GT World Challenge America, which he says has now set itself further apart from the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
“I like that there is an optional format available for the SRO, which is not ‘Plan B’ [instead of] IMSA,” he explained.
“It’s a standalone format that differentiates and therefore follows a different logic and will hopefully acquire different customers and therefore has a positive effect.
“I hope that customers will not only decide to run SRO but also decide to run Audis in SRO.”