Audi AG will be pulling out of Formula E at the end of 2021 to focus on the 2022 Dakar Rally, while also returning to endurance racing with the 2023 LMDh category, with the focus on developing electric technology across both programs.
The Audi Electric Prototype for Dakar 2022 will get an high-performance electric motor with a TFSI motor
Audi AG has announced a monumental decision to exit the Formula E championship at the end of the next season, as it plans to enter the famous Dakar Rally for the first time in 2022. The German auto giant has announced that it will be ending Formula E program to focus on the Dakar with an electric prototype that “combines an electric drivetrain with a high-voltage battery and a highly efficient energy converter” for the first time. It’s interesting to note that the announcement comes just a week after Audi unveiled its e-tron FE07 race car for the next season of Formula E with the powertrain ‘MGU05’ developed in-house by the company.
Speaking on the decision to enter Dakar, Markus Duesmann, Chairman of the Board of Management and Board of Management Member for Technical Development and Product Lines – Audi AG, said, “A multifaceted commitment to motorsport is and will remain an integral part of Audi’s strategy. We want to continue demonstrating the brand’s slogan ‘Vorsprung durch Technik’ in international top-level motorsport in the future and develop innovative technologies for our road cars. The toughest rally in the world is the perfect stage for this.”
Audi’s Dakar prototype vehicle will be using a high-voltage battery that can be charged as required using an energy converter in the form of a highly efficient TFSI engine. The Dakar program will further help the automaker to hone its electric vehicle technology in the years to come, eventually making it on road cars in the future. The decision to run in Dakar marks the brand’s return to rallying, which helped build its storied history in motorsport while making the Audi quattro technology so famous since 1981. Needless to say, the now-electric quattro technology is available on the e-tron cars too.
Audi was initially part of Formula E offering technical support to privateer Abt Team during the first three seasons, before taking full charge from the 2017/18 season onwards. Over the past six years, the Audi Abt team has been a dominant player with 12 victories, 43 podium finishes as well as the drivers’ title in 2017 and the 2017/18 teams’ championship as a factory outfit. While Audi will not actively participate in Formula E, it will continue to remain a supplier of powertrains and honour its deal with Envision Virgin Racing until the end of 2022, as per the original agreement.
In addition to Dakar, Audi has also confirmed that it is looking at a return to endurance racing. The automaker is planning to enter the upcoming LMDh (Le Mans Daytona h) category. The car built to LMDh rules will be able to enter the WEC and IMSA SportsCar Championship from 2023, as a cost-effective alternative to Le Mans Hypercar rules being introduced to the WEC next year. Do note, Audi comes with a dominant history in Le Mans, making it the second most important manufacturer in the sport, having taken 13 wins between 2000 and 2014.
Speaking on the initiative, Julius Seebach, Managing Director – Audi Sport GmbH, said, “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.”
From December 1, 2020, Julius Seebach will assume responsibility for the company’s international motorsport activities in addition to his function as the MD of Audi Sport GmbH. Dieter Gass, who has held management positions at Audi Sport for almost ten years and was jointly responsible for the sporting success as Head of Audi Motorsport from 2017 to 2020, will devote himself to new tasks in the future, following the successful conclusion of the factory involvement in the DTM.