Audi LMP1 programme to end in 2016

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Audi Sport today announced that its vast­ly suc­cess­ful LMP1 pro­gramme will come to an end at the con­clu­sion of the cur­rent sea­son. In what it has referred to as “realign­ing its motor­sport strat­e­gy”, the Audi Sport mar­que will now switch its focus to For­mu­la E in a fac­to­ry-backed effort.

The rumours had been cir­cling for some time of Audi’s poten­tial exit, and had picked up trac­tion once again this month after an arti­cle in Ger­man mag­a­zine Auto Motor und Sport. Ulti­mate­ly, it appears that the LMP1 programme’s focus on diesel tech­nol­o­gy has been its down­fall: “As our pro­duc­tion cars are becom­ing increas­ing­ly elec­tric, our motor­sport cars, as Audi’s tech­no­log­i­cal spear­heads, have to even more so,” Chair­man of the Board of Man­age­ment Rupert Stadler said in a state­ment on behalf of Audi explain­ing the deci­sion.

Audi’s depar­ture from the FIA World Endurance Cham­pi­onship will come as a bit­ter blow to the series, leav­ing just two man­u­fac­tur­ers in the top class and no con­firmed P1 pri­va­teer entries as yet for next sea­son. The Ger­man man­u­fac­tur­er leaves a huge lega­cy on the world of sports­car rac­ing, hav­ing won 13 of 17 Le Mans 24 Hour races it com­pet­ed in and win­ning the World Man­u­fac­tur­ers’ Cham­pi­onship in 2012 and 2013. The pro­gramme has also played a huge role in Audi’s devel­op­ment of diesel engines for its road cars, and has been of almost incal­cu­la­ble mar­ket­ing val­ue to the Ger­man mar­que.

After 18 years in pro­to­type rac­ing that were excep­tion­al­ly suc­cess­ful for Audi, it’s obvi­ous­ly extreme­ly hard to leave,” Head of Audi Motor­sport Dr. Wolf­gang Ull­rich said. “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!”

Source: Audi Media Cen­ter
Image © WEC-Mag­a­zin / David Tun­ni­cliffe