Months after rumors of leaving the World Endurance Championship, Audi has officially announced that they are indeed leaving the endurance racing series. The automaker will be shifting its motorsports program to the all-electric open wheel series, Formula E.
“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,” said Rupert Stadler, Chairman of the Board of Management for Audi. The commitment in FIA Formula E will commence by 2017. Even before the official announcement, the automaker has intensified the existing partnership with Team ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport during the current 2016/2017 season. On the road toward a full factory commitment, the manufacturer is now actively joining the technical development.
Along with their departure from endurance racing, the brand's involvement in the World Rallycross Championship (World RX) is currently under evaluation. Up to now, Audi’s involvement has been limited to supporting the private EKS team. In the current 2016 season, DTM factory driver Mattias Ekström in his Audi S1 EKS RX quattro clinched the World Championship title early, competing against numerous factory teams. As for their commitment in the DTM, Audi will be competing with the successor of the Audi RS 5 DTM in 2017 and the program will remain untouched for the upcoming seasons.
Audi leaves WEC after of 18 years of racing prototypes. During this period, it scored 13 victories in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and set numerous technical milestones. At Le Mans, Audi clinched the first victory of a TFSI engine (2001), the first success of a race car with a TDI engine (2006), plus the first triumph of a sports car with a hybrid powertrain (2012). In the brand’s 185 races contested to date, Audi’s Le Mans prototypes have achieved 106 victories, 80 pole positions and 94 fastest race laps. On two occasions, Audi won the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) with the Audi R18 e-tron quattro race car.