Audi withdraws from Le Mans and WEC to focus on Formula E
Audi has announced it is “terminating its FIA WEC commitment” including the 24 Hours of Le Mans to focus on Formula E.
The belief is that the decision to “terminate” WEC and Le Mans goes back to #dieselgate and is aimed at showing the company is firmly committed to a green motoring future. Audi announced realigning of its motorsport strategy yesterday to the 300 workers in its motorsport department.
According to Audi, the thinking behind the decision was to concentrate on the things “that would keep Audi competitive in the years ahead… in the future, Audi will be using the know-how and skills of the motorsport experts from Neuburg and Neckarsulm partially in motorsport and partially in production development.
“We’re going to contest the race for the future on electric power,” said Chairman of the Board of Management Rupert Stadler. “As our production cars are becoming increasingly electric, our motorsport cars, as Audi’s technological spearheads, have to even more so.”
The decision to concentrate on Formula E links back to Audi’s announcement it would offer fully battery-electric cars for sale in 2018. While Audi has been supporting the ABT team in Formula E since the series began, it will now offer full factory support, including financial and technical support which will be in place for the 2017 season.
“It [Formula E] is regarded as the racing series with the greatest potential for the future. That is why Audi has intensified the existing partnership with Team ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport in the current 2016/2017 season. On the road toward a full factory commitment, the manufacturer is now actively joining the technical development,” Audi said in a statement.
The decision to join Formula E follows Jaguar’s recent entry into the series.
While Audi is pulling out of Le Mans and WEC, it has said it will continue to contest Germany’s domestic motorsport series, DTM, but that no decision has currently been taken about its involvement in World Rallycross. Electrification is also being discussed for that series.
Audi will leave behind an impressive legacy with prototype racing at Le Mans. Over an 18-year history and with 185 races under its belt, the four rings achieved 106 victories (13 of them at the 24 Hours of Le Mans), 80 pole positions and 94 fastest race laps.
“After 18 years in prototype racing that were exceptionally successful for Audi, it’s obviously extremely hard to leave,” says Head of Audi Motorsport Dr Wolfgang Ullrich.
“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. It’s been a great time!”
Question: Do you think Audi has made the right decision to focus on Formula E and withdraw from Le Mans prototype racing?