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Audi won't compete in Le Mans' new hypercar class

The victor of many modern 24-hour races doesn't fancy a stab under its new regs

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The rules at the top end of Le Mans are changing, leading to a new hypercar class that Aston Martin and Toyota are keen to win. High time for a return to glory for Audi? Um, probably not.

“Le Mans was a success for us because our legend in motorsport is we differentiate for success through technology,” says Chris Reinke, head of Audi’s customer racing. “We used quattro in rally and touring cars, diesel and hybrid at Le Mans.

“With the new hypercars, the idea is it’s based on a hyper road model, and we simply don’t have one. If you say ‘maybe you do it like Toyota’, and we create a hypercar around that project, then there’s got to be a story of ‘what do we want to deliver?’

“We need differentiation, we’ve got to have that advanced technology at least. Therefore, I simply don’t see with those regulations that we have to go there.”

The head of Audi’s quick road cars – Oliver Hoffman – confirms the unlikeliness of a hypercar for the road to pour more cold water on speculation.

“Such kind of cars are very effective to get attention on technology and to make a halo effect,” he says. “If we create an R8 follower we have to sell more cars, and with a hypercar there are customers, but not a high number of them. You sell ten of these cars and collectors put them in their garage. We want to get visibility of these cars on the street.”

Things would be different if the R8 could compete for overall victory – rather than just GTE class honours – adds Reinke.

“If they would have opted for ‘GTE plus’ instead of ‘hypercar’ regulations, then it would be a different story. Then you would have authenticity to a road car model, you could get an overall win, and there would be a lot of manufacturers looking to jump on it. I think we would have investigated it.

“But it’s not the desire of Audi that we have to go back to top level endurance racing. There was a great era and it worked well for us, but we can also accept that at the moment we focus on something else, which is currently Formula E.”

Sad not to see an Audi hypercar on the horizon?

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