The self proclaimed leader in “green racing” has announced its withdrawal from the American Le Mans Series for the 2009 season. After winning nine consecutive LMP1 championships with the R8 and then the R10 TDI, Audi will no longer have a works team in the ALMS in 2009. The only official Audi appearance in North America will be the debut run of the new R15 TDI at Sebring in March. After that, the R15 will go to Le Mans and Audi will be represented by the new A4 in DTM and the R8 LMS in GT3 racing. The current economic conditions have been cited by Audi racing boss Dr. Wolfgang Ulrich as part of the reason for withdrawing from ALMS and also the European Le Mans Series. Below is the full statement from Audi:
INGOLSTADT, Germany, Dec 5, 2008 – Audi announced it will concentrate its motorsports efforts for 2009 on the new R15 TDI sport prototype for the 12 Hours of Sebring and 24 Hours of Le Mans races, the re-worked race touring car A4 for the DTM circuit, and the newly developed R8 LMS for racing customer use in the GT3 class.
Audi said it will not be represented by its factory team, Audi Sport North America, in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) in 2009.
Audi entered the American Le Mans Series in the year 2000 and has been instrumental in building up this championship series ever since. The championship has become one of the most fascinating motorsport series with a growing fan base. The ALMS is recognized internationally and is regarded as the world’s best sports car championship.?
“The decision to withdraw was a very difficult one for these reasons. Furthermore, with the Champion racing team we had a partner that operates at the highest level. The extraordinary dedication and precision of Team Champion was the key to Audi’s victories over the last few years in America. ” Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, the head of Audi Motorsport, in relating the difficult decision by Audi AG to call off ALMS participation next year. “We achieved an unprecedented winning series together. Since the 2000 season Audi has won the LMP1 title nine-times in succession in this high-caliber sports car championship. Our brand dominated the circuit last season by taking seven wins in eleven races.”
Dr. Ullrich also noted how technology developed for Audi’s racing efforts in ALMS and elsewhere is turning into benefits for U.S. consumers. “TDI Technology in racing supported the market launch of Audi TDI Technology in the U.S. perfectly”; he said.
While Audi AG plans to concentrate its factory involvement at European venues throughout the 2009 season in these economically tough times, American fans of Audi motorsports will be treated to a premiere: The all-new Audi R15 TDI sports prototype will make its debut March 21, 2009 during the 12-hour race at Sebring, Fla. This international racing classic, which will be contested by Audi Sport Team Joest, is traditionally regarded as excellent preparation and a final test-race for the 24 Hours of Le Mans race in France. At the same time, the race at Sebring with its special demands made of man and machine guarantees excellent motorsports competition.