After weeks of rumour, Audi has confirmed that it will withdraw from the FIA World Endurance Championship, including the 24 Hours of Le Mans, at the end of the 2016 season and will instead focus on the Formula E series.
Chairman of the Board of Management Rupert Stadler spoke to employees of the motorsport department on the morning of Wednesday October 26.
“We’re going to contest the race for the future on electric power,” said Stadler. “As our production cars are becoming increasingly electric, our motorsports cars, as Audi’s technological spearheads, have to even more so.”
Audi’s departure from top-level endurance racing marks the end of an 18 year campaign, during which the brand scored 13 victories in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, won the FIA World Endurance Championship twice and secured the American Le Mans Series title nine times.
Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ulrich was clearly sad at the closing of this chapter in Audi’s history.
“After 18 years in prototype racing that were exceptionally successful for Audi, it’s obviously extremely hard to leave,” said Dr. Ulrich. “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!”
Audi’s departure will leave only two manufacturers in the premier class of the FIA World Endurance Championship – Porsche and Toyota.