Audi Sport is to exit Formula E at the end of the 2021 season as part of a root and branch review of the brands’ motorsport programs.
The decision, confirmed at Formula E’s pre-season test in Valencia, Spain by team principal Allan McNish, comes hard on the heels of its post-2020 exit from the DTM as a factory effort in a set of measures reminiscent of its withdrawal from the FIA World Endurance Championship in the wake of the VAG ‘Dieselgate’ scandal in 2016.
The brand’s newly-appointed head of motorsport Julius Seebach, though, already has an eye on Audi’s future factory-backed motorsport focus, with a 2022 EV prototype entry into the Dakar Rally, plus a confirmed interest in a return to top-tier sports prototype racing, with the hybrid LMDh class of 2023 already on the agenda.
Seebach, who was announced only today as the replacement for outgoing motorsport head Dieter Gass confirmed:
“We are intensively preparing to enter the new sports prototype category LMDh with its highlight races, the Daytona 24 Hours and Le Mans 24 Hours. The most important message for our fans is that motorsport will continue to play an important role at Audi.”
Audi’s interest in the new top class of prototype racing is no surprise: the brand has been represented for some time in the technical working groups for discussions with rulemakers and other manufacturers as the drive for convergence between IMSA and ACO regulations came into sharper focus.
Audi joins fellow VAG company Porsche and Honda on the list of very solid prospective factory entrants for the new class, with multiple additional brands also examining their options for either the IMSA Weathertech Sportscar Championship and/or the FIA World Endurance Championship.