It’s the end of an era, folks, if we’ve ever seen one: Audi is pulling out of the FIA World Endurance Championship – including the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Over the past 18 years, Audi’s front-line Le Mans prototypes have won 106 races (out of 185 contested), including an amazing 13 wins in the headline endurance race in western France. It also won the World Endurance Championship twice and the American Le Mans Series title nine times back to back.
That all comes to an end, however, with the closure of this season. The announcement comes at a time of upheaval for Audi, still recuperating from the diesel emissions scandal. All the while, sister company Porsche has taken Audi’s place in the winner’s circle, winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans the last two years running, securing both the drivers’ and manufacturers’ titles in the WEC last year and currently leading in the standings too.
Instead, the German automaker will focus its energies on Formula E, which according to Audi is “the racing series with the greatest potential for the future.” Audi, which has supported the ABT team since the start of the series and intensified its collaboration for this season, is now “on the road toward a full factory commitment.”
What’s not changing is Audi’s involvement in DTM – Germany’s popular touring car series – in which it competes against its arch-rivals Mercedes and BMW. It will also undoubtedly continue selling its R8 and RS3 LMS racers to privateer teams, and will likely continue with the Audi Sport TT Cup. But the company has yet to decide on its future involvement in the FIA World Rallycross Championship, which its veteran factory driver Mattias Ekström won this year with his own independent team.