Chris Reinke, head of Audi Sport customer racing, has denied rumors of a dissolution of the German manufacturer’s GT racing division but concedes that activities may be refocused as Audi’s automotive division increasingly focuses on electric mobility.
The German manufacturer aggressively relies on electrification as a brand strategy.
The company does not intend to launch new models with electric drives on the world market until 2026.
Under this plan, the current R8 is unlikely to get a combustion-engined successor, which has led to speculation that Audi Sport’s days may be numbered.
However, Reinke denies the notion of a short-term demise of the motorsport division, citing the fact that it recently unveiled two new cars.
The marque launched the Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo II as well as an updated RS 3 LMS TCR for customers worldwide, with the GT3 scheduled for a three-year homologation cycle.
It also produces GT4 and GT2 machines based on the R8, with the former getting its latest update for the 2020 season and the latter arriving in the same year.
“WWe have just launched the second generation RS 3 car which is certainly our best seller considering the volume,” Reinke told Sportscar365.
“We have just introduced the new Evo II R8 GT3. We normally run them for at least three years with the homologation period and we have committed and confirmed that we will at least do so.
“Obviously we see these discussions being brought up.
“For us, we feel very well supported internally and at a very stable level [footing] that we have these days secured and confirmed our two main programs for three years.
“To be honest, up and down the pit lane, who lives up to the privilege of having the top two selling products confirmed over the next three years?
“So I don’t have anything to worry about, but I’m sure we’ll have to answer the question at some point. What’s next after these three years?
“But at the moment we are happy to see how customers are accepting the new products and hopefully will also have successful days this weekend.”
Reinke believes Audi Sport has a place in an electromobility future, although he admits that this may require a move away from the internal combustion engine as the current homologation cycle comes to an end.
“Absolutely, I think we all have to change at some point,” he said. “The question is to what extent and in which fields this needs to be researched.
“Just because the goal of the mothership of our product line is electrification, it does not mean that customer sport is over.
“Either we transform at a similar rate, [maybe] We change in advance to promote it, maybe we will be positioned to operate followers.
“This is a strategic decision that needs to be made; What do we do after these three years that we just discussed?
“Of course, with the infrastructure we have around the world, it would be foolish not to use it.”
Audi expects to join Electric GT “eventually”.
As Audi increasingly focuses on electric mobility, this potentially opens the door for Audi Sport to compete in the planned FIA Electric GT Championship.
The new series was announced last year ahead of an expected debut in 2023, but no manufacturer has officially committed just yet and some are concerned about development costs.
While Audi hasn’t directly confirmed a program for the championship, Reinke said it’s something the company could look at.
“Surely at some point,” said Reinke when asked whether Audi could enter the series.
“The question is the pace [of electrification]. At some point we all have to think about it, but we have to see the pace.
“We looked at hybrid systems in racing. You’ve had tough days.
“Some series have adopted it permanently, but here, if I’m right [was] not a single hybrid car [at the N24]. It was also an early testing ground here decades ago.
“You have to go with the demands of the market with the ability to position a product and at the same time fit your OEM strategy.
“That’s exactly what we’re going to do. When we are sitting here in 20 years, our product range in customer sport will certainly not only be powered by combustion engines.”