Porsche and Audi scale back Le Mans entries to two cars each

Audi and Porsche have agreed to scale down their Le Mans 24 Hours campaigns next year from three to two cars each in the interests of cost reduction

Porsche and Audi scale back Le Mans entries to two cars each

Audi announced the joint move by the two Volkswagen Group brands on the unveiling of its 2016 World Endurance Championship contender in Munich today.

A statement read: "In the interest of maximum cost efficiency, Audi and its group sister brand, Porsche, have both agreed to each compete in the Le Mans 24 Hours, the WEC season's pinnacle event, with only two instead of the most recent three cars."

Audi revealed that the decision agreed by the two manufacturers was made in the past week.

The downscaling of the LMP1 Le Mans bids of the VW marques that battled for victory in this year's edition of the 24 Hours comes against the backdrop of the emissions scandal that hit the group at the end of the summer.

It is understood that it is part of a cost-cutting regime imposed across the VW Group in anticipation of likely financial penalties in the wake of 'dieselgate'.

Audi Sport boss Wolfgang Ullrich told Autosport: "If you get a chance in a period when the group is not in an easy situation, the brands have to stand together.

"We are very happy that our motorsport programmes can continue, but we are giving a clear signal that we can save money."

Ullrich stressed that the drivers of the additional car at Le Mans this year - Filipe Albuquerque, Marco Bonanomi and Rene Rast - would remain with Audi for next season.

"They are works drviers; nothing has changed," he explained.

"We need to redefine their activities and find good programmes for them."

Audi is retaining its six regular drivers for its two WEC entries.

Porsche's confirmation of its reduction of its Le Mans bid to two cars came at the same time as the announcement that the six drivers from the first two years of its return to top-line sportscar racing will be retained for next season.

That means Nick Tandy and Earl Bamber will not defend their Le Mans crown in 2016 and that there will be no place for Nico Hulkenberg even if there was a change in the Formula 1 calendar to allow him to participate.

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