Audi and Porsche will both have a reduced effort in next year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, with Audi confirming a two-car entry as part of cost-cutting measures for the twice-around-the-clock endurance classic.
Both of the German manufacturers will not field third entries for the race, as part of a joint agreement made between the VW Group sister companies in the wake of the group’s ongoing emissions scandal.
It will result in only the teams’ season-long FIA World Endurance Championship pilots taking part in the blue-ribboned event, with none of Porsche’s winning drivers from 2015 back to defend their overall crown.
Audi confirmed Saturday that the driver lineup in its two season-long entries have remained unchanged, with Andre Lotterer, Benoit Treluyer and Marcel Fassler back in the No. 7 car and Loic Duval, Lucas Di Grassi and Oliver Jarvis again teaming up in the No. 8 Audi.
The reduced Le Mans effort — a decision that’s understood to have been made during last weekend’s season-ending Six Hours of Bahrain — will result in no 2016 LMP1 race drives for Filipe Albuquerque, Marco Bonanomi and Rene Rast.
It will mark the first time in a decade that only two Audis will be on the grid at Le Mans, with the manufacturer having fielded as many as four factory entries in recent years.
Porsche, meanwhile, also confirmed Saturday that all six of its 2015 drivers will return in 2016.
The decision comes in the wake of Porsche testing multiple drivers, including Kevin Magnussen, Oliver Turvey and Mitch Evans, for what its previously confirmed third 919 Hybrid, which has since been retracted.
Toyota, which has yet to announce its 2016 driver lineup, is understood to have been evaluating a third entry for Le Mans, although the addition of a ninth race to next year’s schedule could have ruled out those hopes.
Nissan, meanwhile, will also feature a reduced two-car effort at La Sarthe next year, as confirmed by incoming LMP1 team principal Michael Carcamo.