Racing cars don’t typically win races, let alone championships, in their debut year. At least not in racing disciplines where new cars compete against more established players that are past their teething period. But Audi bucked the trend with the new R8 LMS this year.
The German automaker launched its second-generation GT3 racer just half a year ago. But with the Petit Le Mans now completed at Road Atlanta, Audi has already won both GTD manufacturer’s titles in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
Both titles, you ask? That’s right: the series includes two effectively parallel championships in each class. There’s the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup, which includes only the long-distance rounds: the 24 Hours of Daytona, 12 Hours of Sebring, 6 Hours of the Glen, and the Petit Le Mans. Throw in the shorter rounds at Long Beach, Laguna Seca, Belle Isle (Detroit), Mosport, Lime Rock, Road America, VIR, and COTA (Austin) and you have the full championship. Either way you cut it, though, the Audi R8 LMS was the car to beat in the GTD class.
Not only did Audi win the manufacturers’ title for both the full season and the select endurance cup, but its customer team Magnus Racing also won the endurance cup for teams. Equally accomplished, though, was the Scuderia Corsa pairing of Alessandro Balzan and Christina Nielsen in the new Ferrari 488 GT3 introduced just last year. They won the drivers’ titles in both categories, and the teams’ title for the full championship.
With this season now in the history books, Audi’s client teams, and their rivals, can start gearing up for next year, set to begin late in January at Daytona.