Audi has finally made the decision to sell the two American Le Mans Series-spec R8 chassis to private teams. Stefan Johansson is favourite to land one chassis for competition in the European Le Mans Series which includes the Sebring 12 hours, the Petit Le Mans and Adelaide, plus Le Mans, while the largest Porsche and Audi dealer in the world, Dave Maraj, is likely to land the other.
Johansson's bid took a double blow last week with the announcement that he has split with his partner, Jim Matthews, and lost his team manager John Wickham, who has taken an appointment as team manager with Bentley.
Johansson ran two Reynard 2KQs in the American Le Mans Series this year, but a lack of competitiveness is forcing the Swede to look elsewhere despite assurances from the British race car constructor regarding updates for next year's car. "We were planning to finance the year just with sponsorship money anyway," said Johansson of his split with Matthews. "He basically did not enjoy the ownership part. He wanted to drive."
Wickham is still helping Johansson to raise the finance to run the car over the next few weeks despite his Bentley appointment. "We are still continuing with discussions and we hope to have things tied up in a couple of weeks," said Wickham, who had taken a year out of his involvement with Richard Lloyd's team that ran the Audi R8Cs at Le Mans last year, to manage Johansson's team.