Audi’s assault on the new Intercontinental Cup next season does not preclude a full-time return to the American Le Mans Series.
Audi Sport boss Wolfgang Ullrich has revealed that the German manufacturer is evaluating mounting its first full campaign in the United States since 2008. He said Audi is “looking into whether it makes sense and whether it can be handled” alongside its attack on the new seven-race Intercontinental Le Mans Cup in 2011.
“We are thinking, at least, of returning to the ALMS and working on preparations, but it is not decided,” he said. “We have no 100 percent go for next year’s program because it is still the end of the summer.”
Ullrich explained that the ALMS, a series it won every year from 2000 to 2008, remains an attractive proposition for Audi.
“It is a great championship with great racetracks and great marketing opportunities,” he continued. “There is a good TV package and good racing.”
Should Audi commit to the ALMS next season, it could attract other manufacturers into the series, Ullrich believes.
“I am quite convinced that if we give a sign that we are going to return to the ALMS, other brands who have been looking at it for some time will think about it also,” he said.
It is unclear whether Audi’s factory team, Joest Racing, would be able to do both the ILMC and the 10-round ALMS. Audi’s most recent campaigns in the States were masterminded by the now-disbanded Champion Racing team.
The new-for-2011 Audi R18 will make its race debut in the Sebring 12 Hours next March, the first round of the ILMC. If the German manufacturer follows its previous practice, it would then revert to its previous design, the R15, for the ALMS races between Sebring and the Le Mans 24 Hours.
A return to the ALMS is more likely than a full attack on its European counterpart, the Le Mans Series, according to Ullrich.
“America is one very important market covered by one company, Audi of America,” he explained. “It is more difficult to get the money together for Europe because we would be dealing with five different national companies, each of which only gets one race. That makes it much more difficult to find a solution.”