Penske approached Audi to run LMP1 cars at Le Mans

American racing grandee Roger Penske says he made an enquiry to Audi about running its LMP1 cars on a privateer basis at the Le Mans 24 Hours this year – but the German manufacturer said no.

Penske approached Audi to run LMP1 cars at Le Mans
#7 Penske Racing Porsche RS Spyder: Romain Dumas, Timo Bernhard
Roger Penske
Penske's Porsche
1999 Audi R8R and the 2016 Audi R18
FIA and ACO logos
Audi Sport group photo with the 1999 Audi LMP1 and 2016 Audi R18
#7 Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R18: Marcel Fassler, Andre Lotterer, Benoit Tréluyer
#12 Penske Racing Porsche Riley: Timo Bernhard, Romain Dumas
#7 Penske Racing Porsche Riley: Ryan Briscoe, Kurt Busch, #32 PR1 Motorsports Pontiac GXP.R: Mike Forest, Thomas Merrill, Al Salvo
Listen to this article

Audi made a shock sportscar withdrawal after 18 seasons of competition at the end of 2016, a legacy of the Volkswagen Group’s emissions scandal and an increased focus towards its Formula E programme.

Following this, Penske said he approached Audi about running its cars at Le Mans this year, but got a negative response.

“I talked about if we could get a privateer [effort] with some of those cars,” said Penske. “But under the current situation with Audi, all the things they’re going through, they just said they’ve got enough eyeballs on them, they don’t need to be showing up at Le Mans.

“I’d love to run at Le Mans, but if I did I’d love to run at the front.”

Audi’s then-motorsport chief Dr Wolfgang Ullrich told Motorsport.com last year: “You will not see any ‘historic’ Audis in the WEC” – and confirmed that the 2017 Audi was never built beyond a 1:8 model.

Penske was previously linked to running Audis in the American Le Mans Series after its ultra-successful Porsche Spyder RS LMP2 project had concluded after a sequence of title victories.

Penske impatient over IMSA return

Penske also said that his team is approaching decision-day in the coming months over its commitment to return to the US sportscar racing arena.

Penske has been seeking a manufacturer-backed project in the top DPi class of the IMSA series, with star drivers Juan Pablo Montoya and Helio Castroneves considered as likely choices to spearhead its driving strength.

“We’d like to and we’re trying to put all the pieces together now,” Penske said of his sportscar plan. “Hopefully we’ll have something [decided] mid-summer if we’re going to go.

“If we do it, we’ve got to be ready to go for it next year. I don’t want to wait another year to be honest. We’ve waited a year now, and we have a couple of options – and each one of them are good ones – but we just have to see which one is going to be the best.

“If we did a sportscar programme, Montoya would be top of the list to drive for us, and I’ve told him that.”

Additional reporting by Gary Watkins

shares
comments

Super Formula champion Kunimoto in Toyota Le Mans frame

Lapierre, Kunimoto set for Toyota Le Mans seats

The plug in and play stand-ins who got their timing just right

The plug in and play stand-ins who got their timing just right

Prime
Prime
General
Gary Watkins

The stand-ins who got it right The plug in and play stand-ins who got their timing just right

The lesser-remembered sportscar exploits of BMW's two-trick pony

The lesser-remembered sportscar exploits of BMW's two-trick pony

Prime
Prime
Le Mans
Gary Watkins

Steve Soper's sportcar exploits The lesser-remembered sportscar exploits of BMW's two-trick pony

How Porsche's Le Mans legend changed the game

How Porsche's Le Mans legend changed the game

Prime
Prime
WEC
Michael Cotton

How Porsche changed the game in LM24 How Porsche's Le Mans legend changed the game

Why BMW shouldn't be overlooked on its return to prototypes

Why BMW shouldn't be overlooked on its return to prototypes

Prime
Prime
Le Mans
24 Hours of Le Mans
Kevin Turner

Why BMW is a dark horse for 2024 Why BMW shouldn't be overlooked on its return to prototypes

How Formula E's double-duty drivers got on at Le Mans

How Formula E's double-duty drivers got on at Le Mans

Prime
Prime
Le Mans
24 Hours of Le Mans
Jake Boxall-Legge

How FE drivers influenced Le Mans How Formula E's double-duty drivers got on at Le Mans

When the moribund GTE Pro class stole the show at Le Mans

When the moribund GTE Pro class stole the show at Le Mans

Prime
Prime
Le Mans
Gary Watkins

The rise and fall of GTE Pro When the moribund GTE Pro class stole the show at Le Mans

The great Le Mans garagistes that challenged factory might

The great Le Mans garagistes that challenged factory might

Prime
Prime
Le Mans
24 Hours of Le Mans
Gary Watkins

The great Le Mans garagistes The great Le Mans garagistes that challenged factory might

How junior formula giant Prema is readying for its Le Mans future

How junior formula giant Prema is readying for its Le Mans future

Prime
Prime
Le Mans
Marcus Simmons

How Prema is readying for its future How junior formula giant Prema is readying for its Le Mans future