Audi is unlikely to again field a third LMP1 car in next year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, as part of continued budget caps across the Volkswagen Group’s motorsport activities.
Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich revealed the German manufacturer plans to remain as a two-car team for the entire FIA World Endurance Championship season in 2017, as has been the case this year with its new Audi R18s.
“At the moment, it is not expected to see a third Audi at Spa and Le Mans,” Ullrich told Endurance-Info during last weekend’s Total 24 Hours of Spa. “Again, this goes in the direction of reducing costs.
“However, to do a race, it takes cars! Regarding the future, several possibilities are under consideration. You have to find the right technology and develop.”
Both Audi and Porsche reduced its Le Mans effort from three to two cars this year, following budget cuts linked to VW’s emissions scandal.
The decision impacted numerous drivers across both teams, with Audi’s Rene Rast and Filipe Albuquerque having moved to full-season LMP2 efforts in the WEC, Marco Bononomi no longer part of the LMP1 squad and 2015 Le Mans winners Nick Tandy and Earl Bamber focusing on Porsche’s GT prorgam entirely.
It’s unclear if Porsche will also remain as a two-car operation for the French endurance classic next year, although LMP1 rival Toyota has not yet ruled out an expanded effort with three TS050 Hybrids in 2017.