The Audi name will return to the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) grid in 2011, British team Rob Austin Racing announcing their intention to run a pair of A4s in the series.
The news represents a sizeable step up for the Pershore based team, which have previously run Ginettas in the manufacturer's Ginetta Challenge and G50 Cup categories, as well as a 2008 effort in the British GT Championship.
The A4s will be built to the new Next Generation Touring Car (NGTC) rules, with RAR commissioning GPR Motorsport to build the cars. The same outfit are also currently building the Toyota Avensis for Speedworks and Dynojet – both fellow Ginetta G50 squads tempted into the BTCC by the new rules.
“Our NGTC regulations are clearly proving highly popular, with three new teams having now announced plans to come into the BTCC because of them,” says BTCC series director Alan Gow. “It is also understandable why existing teams are continuing, for now, with their S2000 chassis but, of course, it is very significant that they have chosen to go the NGTC engine route.”
“Rob Austin's team, meanwhile, will increase the number of manufacturers represented on our grid to nine. And, of course, the Audi name is synonymous with touring car racing so, while and independent entry it will be terrific to see its badge return to the paddock.”
Austin hopes to name his driving line-up for the season in January with the cars finished in March in time for some pre-season testing.
“This is a great step for us and a fantastic challenge,” Austin enthuses. “We are convinced that the NGTC concept is going to make the BTCC even more competitive and exciting and that the Audi will be a race winner.”
Audi ended its last involvement in the BTCC in 1998 after three seasons in the series, which began with a championship in their first year with Frank Biela.