Gil de Ferran has admitted that he hopes Audi will reconsider its decision not to take part in the 2009 American Le Mans Series.
Audi will enter its new R15 into the season-opening Twelve Hours of Sebring but will then leave the ALMS to focus its attention on the Le Mans 24 Hours.
It means fans won't get the chance to see the R15 doing battle with Acura's new ARX-02a during the year ahead and de Ferran said he would love to see the German marque reconsider its decision to make the Sebring fight one that will continue through the entire season.
“Right now we will probably be competing mostly against Highcroft,” he said. “It's a team that has done very well in last year's championship and, running a similar Acura ARX-2a, it will be a formidable competitor at Sebring and thereafter. I'm certainly hoping that Audi will reconsider its decision not to race in ALMS as it would be great to have them as regular competitors beyond Sebring.”
As well as the debut of the R15, Sebring will also be the first race for the LMP1 Acura, but de Ferran was keen not to make too many predictions going into the race.
“We have no control over the performance of our competitors, so our strategy will be to push on with our own development with an 'us versus us' approach,” he said. “In other words the first challenge is for us to get the most out of what we have. That said, we never enter a race with the intent of finishing second or third - we will certainly go for it on the day. We'll have to wait until the curtains open, though, before we know whether we'll be competitive enough to be fighting for the outright win.
“In theory, the rule changes should ensure that our petrol-powered Acura is more competitive with the turbocharged diesel machines that have been dominating sportscar racing in recent years - and that must be a good thing in terms of putting on a close race for different types of car. However we won't know until Sebring just how successful these revisions will be.”