WEC
13 Jun
Race in
63 days
R
Monza
18 Jul
Race in
98 days
R
Fuji
26 Sep
Race in
167 days
R
Bahrain
20 Nov
Race in
223 days

Audi to leave WEC at the end of 2016

Audi has announced it is to terminate its sportscar racing programme as of the end of this season, marking an end to the German marque’s presence in FIA WEC and the Le Mans 24 Hours.

Audi to leave WEC at the end of 2016
#7 Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R18: Marcel Fässler, Andre Lotterer; #8 Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R18 e-tron quattro: Lucas di Grassi, Loic Duval, Oliver Jarvis
Daniel Abt, ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport
#7 Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R18: Marcel Fässler, Andre Lotterer, Benoit Tréluyer, #8 Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R18 e-tron quattro: Lucas di Grassi, Loic Duval, Oliver Jarvis
#7 Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R18: Marcel Fassler, Andre Lotterer, Benoit Tréluyer, #8 Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R18 e-tron quattro: Lucas di Grassi, Loic Duval, Oliver Jarvis
#7 Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R18: Marcel Fässler, Andre Lotterer, Benoit Tréluyer
#2 Audi Sport North America Audi R10: Allan McNish, Tom Kristensen, Rinaldo Capello, #1 Audi Sport North America Audi R10: Marco Werner, Frank Biela, Emanuele Pirro
#1 Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R18 TDI: Timo Bernhard, Romain Dumas, Mike Rockenfeller
#14 Kolles Audi R10 TDI: Christijan Albers, Matteo Cressoni, Hideki Noda
#1 Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R15+: Timo Bernhard, Romain Dumas, Mike Rockenfeller
#2 Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R18 E-Tron Quattro: Marcel Fässler, Andre Lotterer, Benoit Tréluyer

In a statement released on Wednesday, Audi said it will shift its primary motorsport focus to the Formula E championship - where it is partner to the Abt Schaeffler team - while maintaining its DTM programme.

A decision on its World Rallycross programme has yet to be made, with Audi suggesting it could provide works backing to the EKS team run by its long-time DTM driver Mattias Ekstrom.

Audi’s Chairman of the Board of Management Rupert Stadler said: “We’re going to contest the race for the future on electric power.

“As our production cars are becoming increasingly electric, our motorsport cars, as Audi’s technological spearheads, have to even more so.”

Quit rumours come true

Reports emerged that Audi was considering ending its 18-year involvement in the top flight of sportscar racing in the run-up to this year’s WEC 6 Hours of Fuji, citing the cost of competing and the decreasing relevance of diesel technology in road cars.

However, it was expected that the Ingolstadt brand would at least see out the current rules cycle and quit at the end of 2017, after which rule changes would have rendered Audi’s diesel-powered R18 e-tron quattro less competitive compared to its petrol-powered rivals.

“After 18 years in prototype racing that were exceptionally successful for Audi, it’s obviously extremely hard to leave,” said Audi’s Head of Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, who has overseen 13 Audi Le Mans wins.

“Audi Sport Team Joest shaped the WEC during this period like no other team.

“I would like to express my thanks to our squad, to Reinhold Joest and his team, to the drivers, partners and sponsors for this extremely successful cooperation.”

The news leaves Porsche and Toyota as the only LMP1 manufacturers entered for the 2017 season, with no others poised to join them.

End of an era

Audi first entered prototype racing in 1999 with the R8R and R8C, before dominating the discipline with the R8 from 2000 – winning the Le Mans 24 Hours three years in a row.

It resumed its winning streak after sister marque Bentley won the 2003 race, before becoming the first manufacturer to win at La Sarthe with diesel power in 2006 with the R10 TDI.

After three more victories, Peugeot broke the sequence of VW Group wins with its own diesel-powered contender in 2009, before Audi took further victories from 2010 to 2014 with the R15 plus and the R18 as hybrid cars became the norm from 2012 onwards.

Audi, however, has gone winless at Le Mans since 2014, with fellow VW-owned brand Porsche winning the last two editions of the French classic, and has been defeated in the WEC championship for the last two years.

Its #8 crew of Lucas di Grassi, Oliver Jarvis and Loic Duval sits third in the current standings, 28.5 points down on the points-leading #2 Porsche crew with two races to go at Shanghai and Bahrain.

shares
comments
Beche in, Merhi out at Manor for Shanghai

Previous article

Beche in, Merhi out at Manor for Shanghai

Next article

Strakka forced to miss final WEC races

Strakka forced to miss final WEC races
Load comments

About this article

Series WEC
Author Jamie Klein
How 'Brilliant' Bob Wollek lived up to his nickname Prime

How 'Brilliant' Bob Wollek lived up to his nickname

Sportscar racing lost one of it's greatest talents 20 years ago today when Bob Wollek was knocked from his bicycle prior to the Sebring 12 Hours. The enigmatic Frenchman never won the Le Mans 24 Hours, but many still remember today why 'Brilliant Bob' became a legend

WEC
Mar 16, 2021
How Ferrari's Hypercar project could bolster Leclerc's legacy Prime

How Ferrari's Hypercar project could bolster Leclerc's legacy

Ferrari's planned return to the top category at the Le Mans 24 Hours has further heightened anticipation for the 2023 race. Few concrete details are currently known, but already it has a high-profile superstar angling for involvement, which would make a refreshing change

WEC
Mar 5, 2021
Why Ferrari is ending its 50-year top-flight sportscar racing exile Prime

Why Ferrari is ending its 50-year top-flight sportscar racing exile

Making a return to top-flight sportscar racing after 50 years away, Ferrari will enter the Le Mans Hypercar ranks in 2023. The Italian marque denies the link with Formula 1's new cost cap that frees up resources, but it's certainly no coincidence...

WEC
Feb 25, 2021
The GTE dilemma that IMSA has created for the WEC Prime

The GTE dilemma that IMSA has created for the WEC

The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s decision to scrap its GT Le Mans class for 2022 raises the question of whether the FIA World Endurance Championship should phase out GTE cars. But it's a much harder decision than it appears on the surface.

WEC
Feb 3, 2021
The ground-up refresh behind Toyota's new Le Mans challenger Prime

The ground-up refresh behind Toyota's new Le Mans challenger

Toyota's new GR010 contender for the World Endurance Championship's Hypercar era has little in common with the LMP1 TS050 that preceded it. But within the confines of the scaled back new rules, its latest challenger will be no less formidable a prospect

WEC
Jan 22, 2021
The tiny increments that decided the final LMP1-era WEC Prime

The tiny increments that decided the final LMP1-era WEC

The system of success handicaps devised by the FIA World Endurance Championship to level the LMP1 playing field in the category's swansong season ended up having a counterproductive effect, as COVID cancellations also played in the champions' favour.

WEC
Dec 5, 2020
Why Audi’s shock return promises a new age for sportscars Prime

Why Audi’s shock return promises a new age for sportscars

OPINION: The news that Audi will return to Le Mans means we'll at last get to see the fight promised in 2012 against Peugeot and Toyota. It also gives LMDh a tangible form, which could open the floodgates for more like-minded marques to follow suit…

WEC
Dec 1, 2020
The eternal debate revived after the 2019/20 WEC season Prime

The eternal debate revived after the 2019/20 WEC season

It may have been missed amid the clamour over Lewis Hamilton's seventh F1 title, but Britain had another world champion crowned last weekend. Mike Conway's WEC crown raises an old conundrum - does title glory make up for the pain of Le Mans defeat?

WEC
Nov 19, 2020