The pioneering diesel-powered Audi R10 TDI will return to the Le Mans 24 Hours and the Le Mans Series in 2009 despite the German manufacturer's decision to withdraw from the series and build an all-new R15 TDI LMP1 prototype, after it announced that former Formula One team principal Colin Kolles will run two privately-entered cars for the season through his TME team.
As well as doing a full LMS season, Kolles, whose outfit also runs a squad of Audi A4s in the DTM, is planning to take his R10 TDIs to the Le Mans 24 Hours, where the car remains unbeaten.
It will be the first time a privately-entered Audi has raced at La Sarthe since 2005.
As part of the agreement to sell the R10 TDIs - which not only won Le Mans, but also helped to secure the LMS, ALMS and Petit Le Mans titles in 2008 - Audi has agreed a service package encompassing support for the private racing commitments by members of Audi Sport's technical staff.
Audi's head of motorsport Dr Wolfgang Ullrich said: "We welcome the fact that Dr Kolles decided to take on this commitment and wants to purchase two Audi R10 TDI cars.
"While on the factory side of the house we are concentrating on the development and fielding of the new R15 TDI sportscar as well as on the DTM, we are pleased to see that the R10 TDI will be privately entered in future and that racing vehicles of the Audi brand will continue to be represented in the Le Mans Series," he added, stressing the independent nature of Kolles' project. "That is why we agreed to the sale of the cars.
"However, our involvement will be strictly limited to providing support under the terms of the service agreement."