JOHANNESBURG - AUDI is set to return to sports prototype racing as well as the Le Mans endurance race in 2023 with an electrified car which will be the successor to the successful Audi R18.
The first planned race will be the Daytona 24-hour challenge in January 2023.
It’s being built in co-operation with sister company Porsche.
“A great strength of the Volkswagen Group is the collaboration of the brands in the development of road cars. We are now transferring this proven model to motorsport. Nevertheless, the new sports prototype will be just as much a genuine Audi as the Audi RS e-tron GT1 that was launched recently and has also been developed on a platform shared with Porsche,” said Julius Seebach, managing director of Audi Sport GmbH and responsible for Motorsport at Audi.
“The new LMDh category fits perfectly with our new set-up in motorsport. The regulations allow us to field fascinating race cars in prestigious races worldwide. In addition, we are making use of synergies inside the Volkswagen Group with our partner strategy.”
The new prototype is said to be just as much an Audi as the RS e-tron GT launched recently and also developed on a platform shared with Porsche.
The sports prototype for the new LMDh category is currently being created at Audi Sport in parallel with the innovative SUV for the Dakar Rally. “Of course, the Dakar team is under greater time pressure, because there are just under eight months left until our first participation in the Dakar Rally in January 2022,” said Andreas Roos, responsible for all factory motorsport commitments at Audi Sport. “But we also want to be perfectly sorted for our comeback at Le Mans.”
“We have selected a chassis partner and decided on an engine concept. Together with our colleagues from Audi Design, we are currently defining the look which will excite our fans,” said Roos. The first race is planned for the Daytona 24 Hours in January 2023.
The regulations, which are trimmed for maximum cost efficiency, also make Audi’s new sports prototype interesting for customer teams.
“With the LMDh project, we are continuing the philosophy of our early years in sports prototypes,” said Roos.
“The Audi R8 was not only the most successful prototype of its time from 2000 to 2006, with 63 victories in 80 races, but it was also very successful in the hands of our customers and easy for the teams to handle. This is also the premise with the electrification of our new sports prototype. Our goal is to also put the car in the hands of professional customer teams right from the start, in parallel to factory entries.”
Audi holds the distance record at the Le Mans 24 Hours and has won the race 13 times. Audi customer teams scored overalls victories at Le Mans in 2004 and 2005.