We were a bit disappointed, as were most Audi enthusiasts, when the four-ringed brand dropped out of Le Mans a few years back. Audi Sport’s run in the 24 Hours of Le Mans was one of the most successful in history and was a massive source of pride for the brand. Now, Audi is going to attempt to return its motorsport division to glory by getting back into the WEC (World Endurance Championship) and Le Mans.
Audi Sport will be entering back into the WEC, along with the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, in the LMDh (Le Mans Daytona Hybrid) prototype class. So expect some sort of very excited, bespoke hybrid racer and not a touring car or homologated race car. Being the prototype series, the car can be a purpose-built endurance racer, similar to the cars Audi previously dominated Le Mans with.
“The new LMDh category fits perfectly with our new set-up in motorsport,” says Julius Seebach, Managing Director Audi Sport GmbH and responsible for Motorsport at Audi. “The regulations allow us to field fascinating race cars in prestigious races worldwide. In addition, we are making use of synergies inside the Volkswagen Group with our partner strategy.”
The last prototype racer Audi used was the monstrous R18, which took a whopping 13 wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in twenty years, dominating those two decades. Now, Audi is back but it’s going to have some steep competition. Ironically, some of that competition is familial. Porsche is also going to be entering the LMDh class, so the two VW Group cousins will have to battle it out in France. However, it’s said that the cars each brand will use will be designed in collaboration.
While the car is being designed in collaboration with Porsche, it’s said to be unique from its Stuttgart cousin’s. Audi has already chosen a chassis supplier and designed its hybrid powertrain.
“We have selected a chassis partner and decided on an engine concept. Together with our colleagues from Audi Design, we are currently defining the look which will excite our fans,” said Andreas Roos, head of Audi Sport motorsport commitments. “Our goal is for the first prototype to be on its wheels early next year and to complete its roll-out in the first quarter.”