Audi withdraws support for factory-backed WTCR programme

Audi withdraws support for factory-backed WTCR programme

Frédéric Vervisch
Photo: Florent Gooden / DPPI

Audi Sport Customer Racing has withdrawn the factory support it provides to teams competing in the FIA World Touring Car Cup for 2020, realigning its programme to be an all-privateer effort next year.

Audi Sport has provided factory-backed drivers for the last two years in WTCR, with Jean-Karl Vernay and Gordon Shedden competing with WRT, which has announced its departure for 2020, and Frédéric Vervisch and Niels Langeveld competing with Comtoyou Racing.

The Ingolstadt marque is now realigning its efforts for 2020, with only privateer teams and non-factory-backed drivers to compete in the RS3 LMS TCR.

Instead Audi is focussing its commitments on GT3 racing going forwards, as well as its long-running DTM programme.

“The FIA WTCR has evolved into an international stage and we’ve been part of it from day one,” said Chris Reinke, Head of Audi Sport Customer Racing.

“Since last year, we’ve clinched 25 podium finishes including seven victories. A big thank you for this goes to our four drivers, Niels Langeveld, Gordon Shedden, Jean-Karl Vernay and Frédéric Vervisch, as well as to Comtoyou Team Audi Sport, Leopard Racing Team Audi Sport and our partners.

“Now the time has come to open a new chapter.

“After having set an initial direction for 2020 together with our partners, we hope that the Audi RS 3 LMS will compete in the WTCR again next year.

“Comtoyou Racing from Belgium has expressed interest in competing in the WTCR again in 2020. We would very much welcome this and wish Jean-Michel Baert and his team that this idea will become a reality.”

A statement from the marque said that “the company is pursuing plans to retain the presence of the Audi RS 3 LMS on the world’s highest-level TCR stage in the 2020 season, albeit as part of an all-privateer program”.

In total there are 180 RS3 TCR cars around the world, with the car in the running for the 2020 TCR ‘Model of the Year’ accolade – an award it also won in 2019.