Audi Sport customer racing has confirmed the priority programmes that will feature in 2021 with the factory-based organisation working to complement its customers’ commitments.
For the sixth year in succession, Audi will contest the Intercontinental GT Challenge, which will be held in Asia, America, Europe and South Africa this year at Suzuka, Indianapolis, Spa and Kyalami – Bathurst not featuring as a result of prevailing travel restrictions.
Audi Sport will also target success at the Nürburgring 24 Hours for the 13th consecutive year.
“After a demanding 2020 season for global motorsport, we’re making a statement and committing early to a major international program in 2021,” says Chris Reinke, Head of Audi Sport customer racing. “The Intercontinental GT Challenge as the world’s most high-profile GT3 series is at the heart of this, just like the Nürburgring 24 Hours.” Audi has already won an IGTC title and the 24-hour race in the Eifel five times each.
The brand will field an enhanced roster of 15 factory drivers for the year.
Audi Sport customer racing is also evaluating the FIA Motorsport Games, scheduled for October 2021 at Le Castellet.
Teams from Audi already successfully competed in the first edition in 2019 with the Audi R8 LMS and Audi RS 3 LMS models in the multidisciplinary competition, a kind of Olympics of motorsport, held by the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA).
Audi is also keeping a watching brief on the future of the traditional GT road race around the streets of in Macau in November. This GT sports car race has existed since 2008 and was held as the FIA GT World Cup between 2015 and 2019. Audi has already won the race four times. Most recently, two of the brand’s private customer teams clinched two podium places in November 2020.
Added to those programmes, Audi Sport customer racing is set to continue support for GT3 customers in a number of other competitions in particular to teams that enter the GT World Challenge Europe, the ADAC GT Masters and, for the first time, the newly reconstituted DTM, set to utilise GT3 cars for the first time in 2021
Audi’s 2021 Driver Roster
Only Mirko Bortolotti leaves the roster for 2021, the Italian returning to Lamborghini Squadra Corse after a single season with Audi.
Mattia Drudi, Rahel Frey, Christopher Haase, Pierre Kaffer, Kelvin van der Linde, Christopher Mies, Patric Niederhauser, Frank Stippler, Dries Vanthoor, Frédéric Vervisch and Markus Winkelhock are all retained in 2021.
Two young drivers are added for the first time at Audi Sport customer racing in the 2021 season.
Dennis Marschall has shown his talent in the Audi Sport TT Cup in 2015 and 2016. With the Rutronik Racing outfit, the 24-year-old German student has since repeatedly shown top performances as a privateer driver in the ADAC GT Masters, including two pole positions in the season that has just ended. In addition, he contested two major international events in the IGTC for the first time in 2020 at Spa and Kyalami.
Charles Weerts will also be driving for Audi Sport customer racing in the future. At just 19 years of age, the Belgian is the youngest driver to date to have won the GT World Challenge Europe Sprint Cup in the Audi R8 LMS and most recently finished second in the IGTC finale at Kyalami.
In addition, several DTM drivers will again be part of the Audi Sport driver squad in 2021.
Mike Rockenfeller, the 2013 champion, and Nico Müller, the current runner-up, will continue to drive for Audi.
René Rast, the winner from 2017, 2019 and 2020, will contest the FIA Formula E World Championship for Audi. In addition, selected customer racing events will be added to his programme.
All three drivers have also strengthened the customer racing driver squad in major competitions over many years. Outstanding successes include René Rast’s victory in the 2014 Nürburgring 24 Hours, Nico Müller’s win a year later, and Rast’s victories in the 2012 and 2014 Spa 24 Hours.