Audi’s Return to Le Mans: A Triumph of Endurance Racing

Audi’s Return to Le Mans: A Triumph of Endurance Racing


Motorsport enthusiasts around the world were thrilled by the recent announcement from Audi – the German automobile manufacturer is set to make a grand comeback to the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2022. This news has sent shockwaves through the motorsport community, as Audi had previously enjoyed tremendous success at Le Mans, winning the iconic endurance race 13 times between 2000 and 2014. In this article, we’ll explore the reasons behind Audi’s decision to return to Le Mans, the regulations they will be competing under, and what this means for the future of motorsport.

Audi’s Glorious History at Le Mans

Audi’s dominance at Le Mans during the early 2000s was truly remarkable. With their revolutionary Audi R8, the company emerged as one of the most successful manufacturers in the race’s history, securing victory five times consecutively from 2000 to 2005. Their success continued in the following years, with Audi winning the race a further eight times, cementing their legacy as a force to be reckoned with in endurance racing.

Departure from the World Endurance Championship

Following their triumphs at Le Mans, Audi shifted their focus to the World Endurance Championship (WEC). However, in 2016, the German manufacturer unexpectedly withdrew from the championship, leaving many fans disheartened. Audi’s departure from the WEC marked the end of an era in motorsport, but little did fans know that a new chapter was about to unfold.

Audi’s Venture into Formula E

After bidding farewell to the WEC, Audi set its sights on a new challenge – Formula E. The all-electric racing series provided Audi with a platform to showcase their technological prowess and commitment to sustainable mobility. Over the course of seven seasons, Audi competed in Formula E, securing a championship win along the way. However, as the 2020/21 championship drew to a close, Audi announced that they would be concluding their Formula E campaign, leaving fans speculating about their next move.

The Change in Leadership Sparks a New Direction

In a surprising turn of events, Audi appointed Julius Seebach as the new Head of Motorsport, replacing Dieter Gass. This change in leadership brought about a shift in strategy, leading Audi to make a momentous decision – a return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Seebach’s vision for Audi’s motorsport future centered around the desire to compete in high-profile events like the Daytona 24 Hour, Sebring 12 Hour, and Petit Le Mans, in addition to Le Mans itself.

Choosing LMDh over LMH

As Audi deliberated on their return to Le Mans, they faced a crucial decision – whether to compete under the LMH (Le Mans Hypercar) or LMDh (Le Mans Daytona h) regulations. Ultimately, Audi opted for LMDh, a choice that allows them to not only participate in Le Mans but also compete in the American sportscar championship IMSA. By choosing LMDh, Audi can take part in renowned races like the Daytona 24 Hour, Sebring 12 Hour, and Petit Le Mans, in addition to Le Mans.

The FIA (Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile) and ACO (Automobile Club de l’Ouest) have confirmed that both LMH and LMDh cars will compete together in the top-flight class of the World Endurance Championship starting in 2022. This decision ensures that Audi can showcase their LMDh prototype alongside their competitors’ LMH vehicles, further enhancing the excitement and competition in endurance racing.

What is LMDh?

To compete in the LMDh category, Audi will develop a car that adheres to the newly finalized LMDh regulations. These rules allow manufacturers to supply their own engines, capable of producing up to 470kW of power, which will be complemented by a ‘spec’ 50kW electric motor provided by Bosch. Four constructors – ORECA, Ligier, Multimatic, and Dallara – have been licensed to build LMDh chassis. Manufacturers can purchase an LMP2-based chassis from any of these companies and customize it with their own road car-inspired bodywork.

The affordability of the LMDh regulations played a significant role in Audi’s decision. IMSA has placed price caps on various components, ensuring that the entire hybrid powertrain, supplied by Williams Advanced Engineering, does not exceed US$350,000. Additionally, the cost of the chassis, excluding the gearbox provided by XTrac, is capped at US$409,000. Overall, it is estimated that the total cost of building an LMDh car, excluding the engine, would amount to approximately US$1.18 million.

Honda’s Potential LMDh Program

Audi is not the only manufacturer eyeing the LMDh category. Honda, through their Acura arm, is also rumored to be considering a foray into LMDh. Acura has already made a mark in the top-tier DPi category of the IMSA championship, partnering with legendary team Penske Racing. If Honda joins Audi in the LMDh class, it would further intensify the competition and showcase the technological prowess of these automotive giants.

Audi’s Expansion to the Dakar Rally

In addition to their return to Le Mans, Audi made another significant announcement – their entry into the grueling Dakar Rally starting in 2022. This decision reflects Audi’s commitment to innovation and development in electric drive systems and batteries. By participating in the Dakar Rally, known as the toughest rally in the world, Audi aims to showcase their technological advancements and further their slogan “Vorsprung durch Technik” (Advancement through Technology).

While Audi has never competed in the Dakar Rally as a factory team, fellow VW Group brands Volkswagen and Porsche have achieved remarkable success in this legendary race. With Audi’s entry into the Dakar Rally, the VW Group expands its presence in one of the most challenging motorsport events, solidifying their commitment to pushing the boundaries of automotive engineering.

Porsche’s Potential LMDh Program

With Audi’s return to Le Mans and their departure from Formula E, Porsche remains the sole representative of the VW Group in the all-electric racing series. However, rumors have circulated about Porsche’s potential entry into the LMDh class in the future. If these rumors come to fruition, it would mark another significant development in the world of endurance racing, as two automotive powerhouses from the VW Group compete in the same category.


Audi’s decision to return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2022 has ignited a sense of anticipation and excitement among motorsport enthusiasts. Their choice to compete in the LMDh category allows them to not only showcase their engineering excellence at Le Mans but also participate in renowned American sportscar championships. Audi’s return to Le Mans, coupled with their entry into the Dakar Rally, signifies their commitment to innovation and technological advancement. As Audi prepares to make their comeback, fans eagerly await the resurgence of the iconic brand on the endurance racing stage.

Leave a Comment