Audi To Pull Out Of WEC After 2016 Season
Dieselgate takes a bite out of Audi’s endurance racing legacyby Kirby Garlitos, on
The possibility was floated last week, but now Rupert Stadler — Chairman of the Board of Management over at Audi — has made it official. After one of the most dominant runs in endurance racing history, Audi is pulling out of the FIA World Endurance Championship at the conclusion of the current 2016 season. This means a lot of things for a lot of people, but the gist of it is this: the German automaker will no longer compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
It really is the end of an era, and it was a dominant one at that. In the 18 years that Audi competed in Le Mans prototype racing, it won the most prestigious endurance race 13 times. Just as impressive, is the fact that it secured a total of 106 wins out of 185 races it contested, setting numerous records along the way, inducing the first to win with a TDI engine in 2006 and the first to win with a hybrid engine in 2012. Audi’s dominance in endurance racing was also felt in the US as the team secured nine consecutive American Le Mans Series titles, a run that extended from 2000 to 2008.
To be fair, Audi’s withdrawal from the WEC doesn’t spell the company’s complete separation from competitive racing. It’s still going to be involved in Formula E with a fully-factory backed team after spending past seasons working with Audi tuner ABT Sportsline and component builder Schaeffler. On top of that, it’s still going to compete in the DTM until further notice, and a decision on its participation in the World Rallycross Championship has yet to be made. So, in the meantime, that too will continue.
But, as far as Le Mans and the WEC are concerned, it’s time we prepare for a future without one of the most dominant outfits in the series.
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It’s the end of an era
The news is still fresh so it’s going to take some getting used to, but if you’re a fan of endurance racing and the 24 Hours of Le Mans, not having Audi there is like the NBA not having LeBron James anymore. So, imagine if LeBron retired today; that’s what Le Mans will be like without Audi.
I’m legitimately bummed about this but given how bad Volkswagen messed up this entire Dieselgate fiasco, something had to give. Unfortunately for fans of Audi’s endurance racing team, it had to be sacrificed.
The only silver lining I can think of at this point is that this is only temporary and once Volkswagen has everything in order, it could pave the way for Audi to return to the World Endurance Championship at some point in the future. It’s not unreasonable to hope for something like that to happen, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who shares in that sentiment. Hopefully, that’s the case because it would be a travesty if Audi doesn’t return to endurance racing when all it has done since entering that environment 18 years ago is win.
You really messed up on this one, Volkswagen. You really did.