Head of Audi Sport Customer Racing Chris Reinke spoke to DSC today about a variety of topics, including the decision to wait until tomorrow’s race to make its tyre section for the Nürburgring 24 Hours, and the progress of the R8 LMS GT4, which is making its global debut in the race.
Chris, the tyre situation for the Audi R8 GT3 customer teams is an interesting one, with both Land and WRT choosing to try out both Michelin and Dunlop tyres ahead of N24, right up until the race. Why has this decision been made?
“This tyre situation has been challenging for all the manufacturers, and especially the tyre manufacturers themselves Dunlop and Michelin. They’re doing a tremendous job because the rule makers have left them with so little time ahead of the race to get their tyres right.
“We’ve done this because the rule makers have left it open for us to try different tyres right up until the race.”
Is it WRT and Land’s decision which tyres they will run, or an Audi decision?
“For Land and WRT it’s an Audi decision.”
Have you now made a decision, or will you wait right up until the race begins to choose?
“We have been evaluating after each session what we have, but we’re leaving it open until the beginning of the race to decide how we are going to attack.”
Outside of the GT3 runners, a big part of this race is overseeing the development of the GT4 car, which is racing with Phoenix. What’s the car’s aim here in its global debut? So far it’s been extremely quick, notably over 20 seconds quicker round the Nordschleife than the new BMW M4 GT4…
“It’s to gain experience in racing conditions, in the racing environment and over a long distance on the Nordschleife. The car will over perform here, we’re running it to a higher power than it will eventually be homologated. The SPX class gives us that possibility, we can put the car under maximum stress to gain as much experience as possible for the later development.
The car will over perform here, we’re running it to a higher power than it will eventually be homologated
“The car in a GT4 configuration will never be run to the level we have it here, at the most demanding track of the world. It will give us a lot of information, more than any customer team will ever need.”
How much mileage has the GT4 car done prior to this event?
“More than 6000 kilometres for sure.”
And what’s the interest for it been like so far, have you sold any yet?
“We plan to open sales in the third quarter of this year, for delivery in the fourth quarter. We don’t want to sell the car before we have the final specifications, as we need to ensure that the customers know what they are buying. We want to ensure we are as transparent as possible for it.
“There’s been a huge amount of interest on our side since the launch, from existing customers looking to expand their portfolio of Audi race cars they run, of new customers, or people who want a change.
“We have gone in there with a confident expectation, and even that has been stressed.”
What sort of number are you hoping to sell Year 1, if you had to put a figure to it?
“The most important part is this race, we want to run it, and show it off. We have our customer support team out here to evaluate the context to decide the final sales figures for next year at the end of June.”
I’m sure you will see at least one, maybe a few more race entries later in the year in a similar process to this year
Will the car contest any other races this year? Has it got a defined race programme before it hits customers hands?
“A big milestone is the 24 Hour race here, it depends on the outcome how we will tune it. I’m sure you will see at least one, maybe a few more race entries later in the year in a similar process to this year, run by a team close to us with our test cars, and with our drivers. We want to thoroughly develop the car ahead of customers.
“We want to deliver the car to its first customers before the end of the year so that they can enter the Daytona 24 Hours support races, Dubai 24 Hours and Bathurst.”