Audi to offer LMDh prototype to customer WEC and IMSA squads in 2023

Customer squads will be able to run Audi's LMDh prototype when the marque returns to the top flight of endurance racing in 2023, with testing planned to begin next year.

Audi to offer LMDh prototype to customer WEC and IMSA squads in 2023

Audi exited the World Endurance Championship at the end of the 2016 season, concluding its 17-year involvement in Le Mans prototype racing with a tally of 13 wins in the 24 Hours - putting it behind only Porsche in the all-time stakes.

Now both Audi and sister brand Porsche, which also departed the WEC after the 2017 season, are preparing for a comeback in the LMDh category for LMP2-based machinery that will commence in 2023.

LMDh cars, using a standard Bosch hybrid system with bodywork and a powertrain designed by a manufacturer, will be eligible to compete in the WEC against the Le Mans Hypercars that will debut at Spa this weekend, as well as in the IMSA SportsCar Championship to replace the current non-hybrid Daytona Prototype international class.

An Audi statement revealed that the concept stage for its new, as yet unnamed prototype is "largely completed" and that development is progressing "in close cooperation" with Porsche.

A first roll-out is planned for the first quarter of 2022 before making a competition debut at the 2023 Daytona 24 Hours.

Andreas Roos, the project leader of factory racing at Audi Sport, said it is anticipated that customer cars would run alongside factory machines "right from the start".

Team Goh Audi R8, Le Mans 2004

Team Goh Audi R8, Le Mans 2004

Photo by: Jeff Bloxham

Customer squads Team Goh and Champion Racing won Le Mans with Audi's R8 in 2004 and 2005 respectively, the factory having ceased to run the cars after completing a hat-trick of wins in 2002.

“With the LMDh project, we are continuing the philosophy of our early years in sports prototypes,” said Roos.

“The Audi R8 was not only the most successful prototype of its time from 2000 to 2006, with 63 victories in 80 races, but it was also very successful in the hands of our customers and easy for the teams to handle.

"This is also the premise with the electrification of our new sports prototype.

"Our goal is to also put the car in the hands of professional customer teams right from the start, in parallel to factory entries. We are currently evaluating internally how this will work in detail.”

Roos explained that a chassis partner has been selected, and an engine concept has been decided on, with Audi "currently defining the look which will excite our fans".

“Our goal is for the first prototype to be on its wheels early next year and to complete its roll-out in the first quarter,” he said.

Audi Motorsport boss Julius Seebach added: “A great strength of the Volkswagen Group is the collaboration of the brands in the development of road cars.

“We are now transferring this proven model to motorsport.

“Nevertheless, the new sports prototype will be just as much a genuine Audi as the Audi RS e-tron GT1 that was launched recently and has also been developed on a platform shared with Porsche.”

The WEC Spa 6 Hours starts on Saturday May 1 at 1.30pm CET, with practice and qualifying scheduled on Thursday and Friday. All sessions of the event will be streamed live on Motorsport.tv

shares
comments

Related video

What to expect from sportscar racing's bold new Hypercar era

Previous article

What to expect from sportscar racing's bold new Hypercar era

Next article

Oliver Gavin to retire from racing after WEC opener at Spa

Oliver Gavin to retire from racing after WEC opener at Spa
Load comments

About this article

Series WEC , IMSA
Author James Newbold
The philosophical problems the WEC's new Hypercar class is already facing Plus

The philosophical problems the WEC's new Hypercar class is already facing

OPINION: Most of the column inches after the World Endurance Championship's opener were centred around the relative pace of the Hypercar class and the LMP2s, but there's another question that needs addressing in order for the new division to have a successful future

WEC
May 7, 2021
How stumbling Toyota drew first blood in the WEC's new era Plus

How stumbling Toyota drew first blood in the WEC's new era

Amid concerns that the new Hypercar class would be upstaged on debut by the spec LMP2 machines at Spa, Toyota delivered the pole and victory that the vast majority of observers expected. But neither car had a clean run, which gave the grandfathered Alpine LMP1 an unexpected shot at glory

WEC
May 4, 2021
Seven things to watch in the 2021 World Endurance Championship Plus

Seven things to watch in the 2021 World Endurance Championship

Beyond the slender grid of headline-grabbing hypercars, there are numerous subplots and changes to look out for in the new season of the WEC, which gets underway at Spa this weekend. Here's the seven key things you need to know about

WEC
Apr 30, 2021
What to expect from sportscar racing's bold new Hypercar era Plus

What to expect from sportscar racing's bold new Hypercar era

A slim field of three cars will be entered in the Hypercar class for the first round of the World Endurance Championship's post-LMP1 age. But there are plenty of reasons for optimism with the new wave of manufacturer entries and competing class philosophies just around the corner

WEC
Apr 29, 2021
How Aston Martin Racing scaled new heights in the Prodrive era Plus

How Aston Martin Racing scaled new heights in the Prodrive era

The 2021 World Endurance Championship kicks off at Spa this weekend, but for the first time since its 2012 inception there will be no works Aston Martins in the GTE-Pro class. As its new era in Formula 1 begins, Aston leaves behind a legacy of success courtesy of its Prodrive-run factory programme that was a hit from the word go in 2005

WEC
Apr 27, 2021
How 'Brilliant' Bob Wollek lived up to his nickname Plus

How 'Brilliant' Bob Wollek lived up to his nickname

Sportscar racing lost one of it's greatest talents 20 years ago today when Bob Wollek was knocked from his bicycle prior to the Sebring 12 Hours. The enigmatic Frenchman never won the Le Mans 24 Hours, but many still remember today why 'Brilliant Bob' became a legend

WEC
Mar 16, 2021
Top 10 moments of an underrated British great Plus

Top 10 moments of an underrated British great

Brian Redman was one of the best sportscar drivers of the 1960s and 1970s, as well as a three-time champion on the fearsome American Formula 5000 scene. To celebrate his 84th birthday Autosport contacted him about his best races – and he decided to write the piece himself…

WEC
Mar 9, 2021
How an endurance racing boom could help one of LMP2's top teams Plus

How an endurance racing boom could help one of LMP2's top teams

The G-Drive squad has been a mainstay of endurance racing in recent years, and has linked up with Russian manufacturer Aurus in recent years to promote its brand. With a change of rules in endurance racing's top tables, the team could be well-placed to take advantage of a potential boom...

WEC
Mar 7, 2021