The success that Audi achieved and its commitment to the FIA World Endurance Championship and to the 24 Hours of Le Mans led to all kinds of rumours, including even a move to Formula 1, but somehow they ceased after some time. This time, what was deemed to be unthinkable happened, as the Ingolstadt manufacturer announced that will terminate its LMP1 program after the current season ends.
This Wednesday (26), Audi’s Chairman of the Board of Management Rupert Stadler announced significant changes in its motorsport strategy, confirming that Audi Sport Team Joest will leave the FIA WEC after the end of the this year’s 6 Hours of Bahrain, which is in fact a year earlier than what was hinted a few weeks ago. Their focus is being shifter now to Formula E and a closer relationship with Team ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport ahead of a full factory commitment, which reflects Audi’s current efforts outside the race track with the production of electric road cars.
The other motorsports programs seem to be unchanged in their approach, as DTM is confirmed in the plans for 2017, but the FIA World Rallycross Championship link with EKSRX is still awaiting a final decision on its confirmation. Audi is studying an extension in the commitment with current world champion Mattias Ekström and his team, but is especially interested in the prospect of electric cars in rallycross, in which Volkswagen already declared its interest.
This will mark the end of 18 years of history at Le Mans for Audi that started from the R8R and R8C models, passed for a long time with the R8, made diesel power a champion with the R10 and R15, and set the hybrid power domination with the R18 e-tron Quattro, with various masters behind the wheel like Tom Kristensen and Allan McNish and more recently the famous trio of André Lotterer, Benoit Tréluyer and Marcel Fässler, and at a given point even counting with customer teams running their cars like Champion Racing and lately Kolles Racing.
PHOTO: Joest Racing