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Audi Sport to End Factory-Supported GT3 Programs



Automobile company, sport outfit, Audi Sport customer racing will shutter its factory-supported GT3 activities and eliminate its works driver pool at the end of the year as part of a major restructuring from the German manufacturer.

Confirmed in a memo sent to its customer teams on Tuesday, Audi Sport customer racing is set to end its ‘strategic operations’ while also halting new sales of its GT2, GT3, GT4 and TCR models “after Q1 2024.”

The homologations of these cars, which are still available for order, will be extended by at least one cycle, with on-site customer support service set to continue for the foreseeable future.

Speaking with Sportscar365, Head of Audi Sport customer racing Chris Reinke explained that a decision from the board was made on Monday, with Audi Sport managing director Rolf Michl deciding to inform its partners and customers today of the developments.

“In short notice, we had the possibility today, all day, to first talk to the employees, the drivers, to the team bosses to our satellite [offices] overseas, and so on, to share our plans,” Reinke said.

“On top of that we sent out [a memo] to our clients to explain what’s going on, because at the end, it’s a transformation of our main business scope.

“But as it’s the most important out of my perspective, it is the confirmation of Audi Sport customer racing’s future.

“All of the cars which are in the hands of customers, we will provide engineering support, we will re-homologate. We have an engineering team who will bug fix, if bugs come up and all that.

“We will continue to give 100 percent support to all those cars in the hands of customers, also for the future. It’s not the end of Audi Sport customer racing.”

Reinke said its strategic programs in Fanatec GT World Challenge and DTM will continue through the end of this year prior to a refocusing entirely on customer racing beginning in 2024.

Among the factory drivers affected in Audi Sport’s 14-driver pool are Christopher Mies, Frederic Vervisch, Christopher Haase, Markus Winkelhock, Mattia Drudi, Ricardo Feller and Patric Niederhauser.

A number of others, including Rene Rast, Kelvin van der Linde, Dries Vanthoor and Robin Frijns, had departed the German manufacturer prior to this year.

“We have informed [them] today that we won’t have the possibility to run them in the pro environment, which is the base of the lineup today,” Reinke said.

“We will now get into one-by-one dialogue and see how we can support and depart with the best manner and see how we can respectfully find a solution for each single one of them.”

Reinke said the reason behind the restructuring was two-fold, directly influenced by the end of production for the R8 road car as well as Audi’s newly announced venture into Formula 1 beginning in 2026.

With Audi Sport’s strategic operations mostly focused on the European market, following its earlier withdrawal from Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli, Reinke said the changes will not have a significant impact on customers in other regions.

He indicated that the Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo II, for example, could theoretically be eligible to race until 2032, per the FIA’s rule that allows cars to be homologated for up to eight years after the end of its road car production.

Additionally, Audi’s customer support network will remain unchanged.

“Audi Sport customer racing will be out there,” Reinke said. “It will be the same people, the same staff.

“They will continue on the customer management side, the race track engineers, the spare part trucks, the complete parts logistics will be run, as before unchanged, out of Neuburg.”

Reinke said a total of 600 cars have been sold to approximately 200 operators worldwide, which he foresees to be largely unaffected.

“If I look into Australia, into China, into the U.S., they have now guaranteed support, which we never put into question, but if they have the desire for a confirmation, now they have it,” he said.

“The far majority run independent efforts and will have all of the possibilities from our end to keep running independent [programs] also for the future.”

Future Projects Undecided at Audi Sport Customer Racing

Reinke added that Audi has not ruled out future projects in the sports car racing world, although none have been decided as of now.

“From my perspective, there are quite a few very interesting projects at the moment up in the air for decision,” he said. “It’s my absolute hope that we get those decided very soon. But as long as they’re not decided, they’re not to be communicated.

“I really hope, also to keep the team together at Audi Sport customer racing, that we can use the potential and capability and talent within our operation for future projects.”


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Marketing & Sponsorship

NLO Hits Jackpot, Set To Sign Multi-Million Naira Sponsorship Deal



The Nationwide League One (NLO) is set to sign its largest sponsorship deal worth millions of naira and also announce a partnership with two foreign service providers.

The four (4) year sponsorship agreement breaks records and represents a major step forward for the development of grassroots football in Nigeria.

NLO Chairman and former Deputy Governor of Nasarawa State, Silas Agara, shared further information about the agreement with.

“We are pleased with the various brands that have shown interest in the NLO in recent months as we want the NLO to become a global phenomenon as the most successful grassroots football league in Africa, as called for by the President of the NFF, Ibrahim Musa Gusau

“One of our partners is a lottery company licensed by the Nigerian Lottery Commission; will be the LO title sponsor. We have signed a sponsorship agreement with a term of four years. And we will reveal them on Thursday, March 14, 2024.

Twenty-four hours later, exactly on Friday, March 15, the NLO will present four of its possible partners.

“One of them is a service provider: a sports tracking platform based in Croatia with more than 25 million monthly active users worldwide. This is very good for our clubs. They have also directed the NLO to help them integrate other leagues in Nigeria.

“This is not about any monetary value, but about sharing the benefits of the development of our league and we have agreed to work with them.”

However, there is another IT company that has agreed to develop websites for all NLO clubs. They will also open social media channels for all clubs.

“They will train club officials to manage the websites and then market the website and social media so that clubs can generate funds to support their clubs.”

“The NLO sees this as a good avenue for club development and another source of income for NLO clubs.”

Agara further hinted: “Two more technical partners will join NLO as they will help facilitate talent discovery through the use of technology.

“The country’s third-tier national football league sees them as a development partner, and we have agreed to give them access to our data. The benefits for NLO are the revenue share from selling the data, we have a device that allows us to monitor what we see.”

In order to expand its reach to a wider audience and passionate fans of the league, NLO has in a separate development launched its two (2) channels on Blend TV.


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Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s Manchester United national stadium plan backed



A vision for a new Manchester United ground that could double as a ‘Wembley of the North’ has been welcomed by council chiefs.

Sir Jim Ratcliffe, a co-owner of the club, has outlined his preference to replace Old Trafford with a ground that could be used as a national venue.

Trafford Council welcomed the proposal as part of its plans to regenerate the wider Trafford Wharf area.

But councillor Liz Patel said it would be up the club to fund a new stadium.

The club’s plans are a key element of Trafford Council’s Wharfside Development plans, which will go out to public consultation next week.

New stadium developments at Tottenham, Everton, and Manchester City have been highlighted by the council as good examples of how to regenerate an area and keep fans there for longer on match days.

Sir Jim told BBC sports editor Dan Roan that the 74,310-capacity Old Trafford had become “tired and in need of refurbishment”.

He said any plan to build a new stadium that could also be used as a national ground would require a “conversation” with the government about using taxpayer funds.

‘Great ambition’

Ms Patel, who is leading the council’s redevelopment plans, said a ‘Wembley of the North’ proposal “would be wonderful”.

“That is great ambition from Jim Ratcliffe and these plans match that in terms of the setting and the future of the area,” she said.

A new stadium built on adjacent land could cost around £2bn.

Ms Patel said the council would look for investment for the Wharfside plans, and “saw a role” for the council in “leading, guiding and securing” the funding.

“How United get together the finances for their own stadium refurbishment would be separate,” she said.

At a meeting of the council’s executive on Monday night, Ms Patel earned cross-party support for the regeneration plans, which could take up to 20 years realise.

She said Trafford Council had worked with Manchester United’s planning team to design improvements in the area for fans as part of the masterplan.

“We want to create a much more family-friendly space where people want to stay longer and have processional routes so it’s a lot safer for fans arriving on foot from tram stops or walking out from the city centre – as sometimes happens in European matches.”


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Marketing & Sponsorship

F1 Academy pens Tommy Hilfiger deal



The all-female F1 Academy series has agreed a partnership with global lifestyle brand Tommy Hilfiger.


  • Tommy Hilfiger will sponsor the entry of Spanish driver Nerea Martí
  • The brand will also design and provide all F1 Academy staff uniform


Tommy Hilfiger becomes the latest brand to support the upcoming season of F1 Academy, with Charlotte Tilbury and Puma already on board. There will be five designated partner liveries this season, in addition to each car supported by a Formula One team, which means there are two partnerships still to be announced.

This adds to Tommy Hilfiger’s existing partnership with the Mercedes Formula One team, first signed back in 2018, as well as its personal endorsement of Lewis Hamilton and, more recently, George Russell.


“Tommy Hilfiger is one of the most recognised global lifestyle brands, so it is a great honour to welcome them to F1 Academy as an official partner,” said Susie Wolff, managing director of F1 Academy.

“Tommy Hilfiger is fully invested in our mission to improve female representation in motorsport, and their global brand platform will appeal to those outside of the motorsport world and help us to reach new audiences.

“I would like to personally thank Tommy and his team for sharing our vision and supporting a talented young driver in Nerea Martí.”

Coming next:

The F1 Academy season gets underway in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia in support of Formula One’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix from 7th to 9th March.


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