Audi will depart the Formula E series after its inaugural FIA World Championship season to focus on Le Mans and Dakar efforts, company representatives confirmed Monday. Audi will field a factory-backed Dakar Rally entry in 2022, and its return to Le Mans is expected as soon as 2023.
The 2020-2021 Formula E season is the first in which Audi has fielded a car with a factory-built electric powertrain. As it turns out, it will also be the last. Audi will continue to produce Formula E powertrains for its motorsports customers, but its works program will be terminated at season's end.
"The Dakar Rally will replace Audi’s factory involvement in Formula E, which will no longer be continued in the form of an Audi factory team after the 2021 season," the company said in its Dakar announcement. "The use of the newly developed Audi powertrain by customer teams will remain possible beyond next year."
"In addition, we are evaluating other possible fields of activity for us in international motorsport," said Audi Sport Managing Director Julius Seebach.
Per Autosport, those "other possible fields of activity" include a return to Le Mans, this time with an LMDh entry. LMDh will building on the revised IMSA LMP2 chassis launching in 2022, but will feature 670-horsepower hybrid powertrains. LMDh (Le Mans Daytona h) is intended to be a lower-cost alternative to the flagship Hypercar class.
"Audi is the first car manufacturer that has committed to develop a viable alternative drive concept for the Dakar Rally, making it a pioneer in motorsport once again," the company said. "In 2012, Audi achieved the first victory of a hybrid racing car in the Le Mans 24 Hours. The Audi R18 E-Tron Quattro remained unbeaten in the world’s most important endurance race three times in a row."