Audi has confirmed that it is preparing for a return to the top class of endurance racing and the 24 Hours of Le Mans with an LMDh program.
The German manufacturer announced a shake-up of its motorsport priorities on Monday, including the end of its factory commitment in Formula E as well as plans to enter the Dakar Rally.
In addition to its plans to enter Dakar, Audi confirmed that it is gearing up for an entry into the LMDh category, with an intention to compete at both IMSA’s Rolex 24 at Daytona. and the ACO’s 24 Hours of Le Mans.
After outlining its future motorsport plans in an extensive press release, Audi went on to confirm its commitment to its customer racing program before new Audi Sport managing director Julius Seebach confirmed Audi’s intention to confirm to top level endurance racing, saying:
“In addition, we are evaluating other possible fields of activity for us in international motorsport.
“In doing so, we have our customers’ wishes in mind as much as the company’s future strategy, which is clearly focused on electrification and carbon-neutral mobility.
“This is why 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 has not put a date on its return, but the LMDh category, which has been developed in a joint effort by IMSA and the ACO, is expected to be fully rolled out in 2023.
Extensive history at Le Mans
Audi is one of the most successful manufacturers in the history of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Between 2000 and 2014, it picked up a total of 13 overall victories.
Initially with the petrol-powered R8 and later with diesel prototypes like the R10, R15 and R18, the Ingolstadt manufacturer was the team to beat at Le Mans for much of the LMP1 era, only losing to Bentley in 2003 and Peugeot in 2009.
Its stronghold on the French endurance classic was finally snapped by Porsche in 2015, after which Audi failed to win again.
In addition, it won the first two FIA World Endurance Championships in 2012 and 2013 before dieselgate and an increased focus on Formula E caused the LMP1 program to be ended in 2016.