Audi to end its works World Rallycross programme after 2018 season

Audi will end its World Rallycross programme at the end of the season and will not participate in the championship's switch to electric cars in 2021

Audi to end its works World Rallycross programme after 2018 season

Following the announcement on Wednesday that Audi will focus on Formula E and DTM next year, Audi's motorsport boss Dieter Gass has told Autosport that the German marque is ending its works support for Mattias Ekstrom's EKS team's rallycross WRX programme.

Audi gave its blessing to EKS when the team first entered WRX in 2014 with its Audi S1 Supercar, before making it a full factory-backed effort for last year.

Audi had been heavily involved in WRX's technical working group discussions surrounding the switch to electric cars, which has been postponed until 2021.

"Basically, we will not take part with a factory involvement in future rallycross," Gass told Autosport.

"We have decided to carry on [with] Formula E and DTM and at the end of the day it's a matter of the amount of big programmes that we can afford and work on at the same time."

Gass says that Audi's commitment to DTM, at board level, is the reason for dropping its WRX effort.

"We are involved in Formula E so we already do have a programme in electric motorsport, even though we were very interested in the EWRX. "It came very much down to a choice between DTM and EWRX.

"For us, as a return of investment and the broadness of what we cover in terms of [internal] combustion traditional motorsport and electric motorsport this was the better compromise.

"[The decision] was mainly a consequence of the positive decision to DTM rather than taking a negative decision to the EWRX."

When asked if that means Audi will stop the development of the current S1 Supercar with the EKS team for the remaining five rounds of the 2018 WRX season, Gass said: "No.

"We carry on developing and we go full pull until the end of the season."

With Audi's commitment to DTM dependent on three manufacturers racing in the championship in 2020, Gass has not ruled out a re-evaluating entering electric rallycross in the future.

"I never say never," he explained. "I still think rallycross is a very interesting concept.

"We will keep on looking at it and then we will make a decision. We will keep an eye on the situation."

Gass is currently in discussion with Ekstrom regarding how or if the two parties will continue to work together in future.

It is understood that EKS has not yet decided if it will continue in WRX next year.

The team's second driver, Andreas Bakkerud, joined after Ford withdrew last season.

Gass says he has been impressed by the 26-year old and is interested in him about a future cooperation.

"I really appreciate the work we have done with Andreas and the performances we have seen," said Gass.

"If there is anything we could do, I would love to carry on working with him."

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Series World Rallycross
Author Hal Ridge
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