24h Le Mans
24 Hours of Le Mans – Audi reveals more about its involvement in Hypercar
Audi is set to return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the FIA WEC in the Hypercar class for the 2023 season, and the car expected to succeed the Audi R18 is already taking shape.
Last 30 November, Audi announced its return to the top level of endurance racing in the Hypercar class. The German marque will field an LMDh prototype in the FIA World Endurance Championship as well as the IMSA. Audi Sport GmbH Managing Director Julius Seeback: "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."
First laps in 2022
The car that will succeed the Audi R18 is being constructed in close collaboration with the marque's sister company, Porsche. "A great strengh 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," says Seeback.
The car is in the design phase at Audi Sport though all basic conceptual decisions have been made at this time. Audi Sport head of factory motorsport commitments Andreas Roos: "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," promises Roos. The German marque is hoping the car's first laps will take place next year and that project completion will be finalized in the first trimester. An intensive testing programme will follow in 2022 and then the first race, the Rolex 24 at Daytona, in January 2023.
A car available to all client teams
Regulations will allow Audi to offer the car to client teams. "With the LMDh project, we are continuing the philosophy of our early years in sports prototypes," says 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. We are currently evaluating internally how this will work in detail."
Audi currently holds the distance record at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and has won the race a staggering 13 times. Audi client teams also scored overall victories in 2004 and 2005.