Audi to quit Le Mans on a high?

Audi is tipped to end its official participation in the Le Mans 24 Hours, despite taking a one-two-three victory in the French endurance classic on Sunday

Audi to quit Le Mans on a high?

Sources within Audi Sport say the company is keen to participate in branches of motorsport where it can take on its German rivals, such as Mercedes-Benz and BMW, head to head. A Formula 1 engine or engine badging project and official participation in the revived DTM are prime candidates, and the sheer scale of Audi's victory could have made the decision even more likely.

"If you target Le Mans, where can you go next from a one-two-three?" said an Audi insider. "Audi has nothing left to prove in sportscar racing, which makes it easier to look elsewhere."

Audi's motorsport chief Dr Wolfgang Ullrich admitted that, on a personal level, he would like to come back and defend the Le Mans victory next year. However, when quizzed on the company's official line, Ullrich maintained that no decision had been made.

"After the Le Mans 24 Hours, Audi is involved with the American Le Mans Series," he said. "The decision for next year will be taken between the end of September and the end of October, same as usual."

One option for 2001 is for Joest Racing, the team that runs Audi's sportscar programme, to run Audi-derived equipment in a non-official capacity - a similar situation to the 'arm's length' relationship it enjoyed with Porsche for its 1996/97 victories.

When quizzed on whether he would return to defend Audi's Le Mans victory next year, Joest racing principal Reinhold Joest was unequivocal, proffering a single-word response: "Absolutely!"


For a full list of race positions click here.

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