Audi has released an update on the progress of its LMDh car, due to arrive in 2023. According to Julius Seebach, MD of Audi Sport, “The new LMDh category fits perfectly with our new set-up in motorsport. The regulations allow us to field fascinating race cars in prestigious races worldwide. In addition, we are making use of synergies inside the Volkswagen Group with our partner strategy.”
Audi says that it is working in close cooperation with Porsche, which will also be fielding an LMDh machine, though whether this cooperation will extend beyond simply sharing a chassis has not been revealed. “A great strength of the Volkswagen Group is the collaboration of the brands in the development of road cars,” said Seebach. “We are now transferring this proven model to motorsport. Nevertheless, the new sports prototype will be just as much a genuine Audi as the Audi RS e-tron GT that was launched recently and has also been developed on a platform shared with Porsche.”
Both Audi’s LMDh and Dakar project are running concurrently. “Of course, the Dakar team is under greater time pressure, because there are only just under eight months left until our first participation in the Dakar Rally in January 2022,” stated Andreas Roos, who is responsible for all factory motorsport commitments at Audi Sport. “But, we also want to be perfectly sorted for our comeback at Le Mans. That’s why we are running both projects in parallel with the highest priority.”
However, the team says that the basic concept development of the car has been completed. “We have selected a chassis partner and decided on an engine concept. Together with our colleagues from Audi Design, we are currently defining the look which will excite our fans,” continued Roos. “Our goal is for the first prototype to be on its wheels early next year and to complete its rollout in the first quarter.” An intensive test program will follow in 2022. The first race is planned for the Daytona 24 Hours (USA) in January 2023.
The German manufacturer is also open to running customer cars, something which it has not done in top level sportscar racing since 2009, when Kolles ran two of its R10 LMP1 machines. “With the LMDh project, we are continuing the philosophy of our early years in sports prototypes,” said Andreas Roos. “The Audi R8 was not only the most successful prototype of its time from 2000 to 2006, with 63 victories in 80 races, but it was also very successful in the hands of our customers and easy for the teams to handle. This is also the premise with the electrification of our new sports prototype. Our goal is to also put the car in the hands of professional customer teams right from the start, in parallel to factory entries. We are currently evaluating internally how this will work in detail.”
Being able to fight for overall victories and championship titles with an Audi at the Le Mans 24 Hours, at the Daytona 24 Hours, in the World Endurance Championship (WEC) and in the IMSA series is an attractive prospect for many teams. As such, and according to Audi, there has already been a lot of interest in the new LMDh race car.