Rob Austin Racing has announced that it will use an engine based on the VW Audi Group's two-litre TFSI unit when it debuts in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship this season.
The team announced in December that it was to enter the series with a brace of Audi A4s built to the BTCC's Next Generation Touring Car regulations, and has now confirmed that it will use an engine developed by Stockport-based Ric Wood Motorsport as opposed to making use of the TOCA unit campaigned by the Pirtek Racing and Pinkney Motorsport teams last year.
The team has also confirmed that the Audis will run with rear-wheel drive, making them the first rear-wheel drive cars to be built to the NGTC rules.
“We are delighted to be working with Ric Wood on this project,” team boss Rob Austin said. “We have been associated with Ric for some time now and are very confident that he will provide us with highly competitive engines along with great service.
“We considered a number of options including the TOCA engine but felt that the Audi A4 should have a VW/Audi group engine and that it should be prepared by someone that we know and trust. We can't wait for the season to get under way so that we can prove that the decision to go with the rear-wheel-drive A4 was the right choice.”
The fact that the Audi will run in rear-wheel drive had been questioned due to the NGTC rules stating that cars should run with the same drive-train layout as the production models they are based on – with the A4 being available in either front-wheel drive or four-wheel drive.
However, in answer to a question posted on his official forum, series boss Alan Gow said that the layout of the mechanicals in the Audi was the reason why it was being permitted to run with rear-wheel drive.
“It's simply an anomaly of the specific engine/gearbox layout of an Audi,” he wrote. “The cars must retain their original engine/transmission orientation and use the NGTC specified gearbox - there is one for front wheel drive cars (i.e. transverse mounted) and one for rear wheel drive (i.e longitudinally mounted).
“However the A4 does not have a transverse engine/gearbox like other front-wheel drive cars - its engine/gearbox sits longitudinally like rear-wheel drive cars - so it obviously can't use the transverse front-drive gearbox and therefore must use the rear-drive one.
“As with any other rear wheel drive car that could just as easily be built by any team - purely for example; Mercedes, BMW, Lexus, Infiniti etc. - the Audi may be subject to a weight adjustment to equalise front and rear drive performances.”