Audi goes electric, leaving FIA WEC after 2016
Audi announces a new motorsport strategy today, in which the German manufacturer will be focused into the Formula E Championship while the FIA WEC activities, including 24 hours of Le Mans, will be terminated at the end of the 2016 season.
Audi’s Chairman of the Board of Management Rupert Stadler has spoken today to 300 employees of the motorsport department, announcing the strategic decision about a new direction in the motorsport future. After 18 years, the brand’s commitments in the endurance racing, including a classic race at Circuit de la Sarthe, will be stopped. Instead, Audi is taking up a factory-backed commitment in the all-electric Formula E Championship. The commitment in the DTM, where Audi will be competing with the successor of the Audi RS 5 DTM in 2017, will remain untouched.
“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,” Stadler said.
In the future, Audi will be using the know-how and skills of the Audi Sport experts from Neuburg and Neckarsulm partially in motorsport and partially in production development. The commitment in FIA Formula E is already opened, as Audi has intensified the existing partnership with Team ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport in the current 2016/2017 season. The next step will be a full factory commitment.
The departure from the FIA World Endurance Championship marks the end of a successful era. Audi was active in Le Mans prototype racing for 18 years. 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 triumph of a race car with a TDI engine (2006), and finally the first win of a sports car with a hybrid powertrain (2012).
Audi’s LMP cars contested 185 races contested scoring 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 (2012 and 2013). In addition, Audi secured nine consecutive titles (from 2000 to 2008) in the American Le Mans Series, the world’s most important racing series for Le Mans prototypes at the time.
“After 18 years in prototype racing that were exceptionally successful for Audi, it’s obviously extremely hard to leave. 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,” says Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich.