The pair of factory-backed Audi R8 LMS cars taking part in this weekend’s Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour have been retrofitted to previous generation due to the event’s GT3 homologation rules.
Melbourne Performance Centre’s two 2019-spec Audis, which will run under the Audi Sport Team Valvoline banner, were delivered to the team in full GT3 Evo trim, although have been “downgraded” for the race, according to Head of Audi Sport customer racing Chris Reinke.
The updated Audi, as well as several other all-new or GT3 Evos, are prohibited from competing in the Intercontinental GT Challenge season-opener due to event running to the previous year’s Balance of Performance.
SRO Motorsports Group conducts its on-track BoP testing in late February each year, with Bathurst therefore having been run to the previous year’s specification.
It has resulted in Audi taking a creative approach, in what’s believed to be a first in event history.
“They were delivered fully upgraded and have been built back with their old parts in Australia,” Reinke told Sportscar365.
Reinke said the process, which entails fitting the previous-generation bodywork, splitter, brakes and gearbox on the car, proves the car’s modular design and cost-effective nature of its Evo.
More than 80 Evo kits have already been delivered to customers around the world.
“It says a lot about our promise,” Reinke said. “Our focus is running costs, and this is a confirmation of that.
“We made a commitment. We said for us the focus is to keep the running costs down. With the character of our Evo kit, we’ve exactly confirmed that this will still be our mission.
“When others didn’t, therefore I think our marketplace will be bigger [for us] in the future.”
Porsche and Aston Martin are also affected by Bathurst’s unique regulations, in not being able to run its all-new cars this weekend.
It comes just one week after the German manufacturer debuted its 2019-spec Porsche 911 GT3 R in the Rolex 24 at Daytona.
All four Porsches entered here this weekend are now running its Evo kit, introduced last year, with Bentley and Nissan’s 2018-spec machinery making their Bathurst debuts.
Audi Targeting IGTC Title Defense
Reinke said Audi is motivated to defend its IGTC crown, in the quest of remaining the only manufacturer champion.
Audi narrowly edged out Mercedes-AMG for its third consecutive manufacturer’s title in the three-year history of the globe-trotting series.
It will, however, face increased competition with the arrival of BMW, Ferrari and Honda, which has seen a boost to eight registered manufacturers for 2019.
“It’s a record we’d like to extend,” Reinke said. “We’re excited that it becomes more and more prestige.
“The more manufacturers join, the addition of Kyalami and the African continent is great. Therefore for us we’re excited and can’t wait for the season to start.”
Reinke said it’s their plan to again utilize locally based teams for its IGTC campaign, with the selection process down to the “possibilities” in each market.