Audi announces exit from FIA WEC at end of 2016

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Audi Sport will withdraw from the FIA World Endurance Championship at the end of the 2016 season, perhaps sooner than expected but still confirming rumors as suggested and reported on by Sport Auto‘s Marcus Schurig a couple weeks ago.

This is a significant blow to the championship as Audi, arguably the flagship manufacturer in LMP1 since its arrival with the first iteration of the R8R and R8C in 1999 at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, before the subsequent run of the R8 starting in 2000, the diesel R10 TDI in 2006, and further cars of the R15 and R18 since 2009, has been the benchmark.

But with Volkswagen Group (VAG) forced to reassess its business strategy and motorsports programs in the wake of the recent diesel emissions scandal, budget cuts were always going to be expected. Reducing entries from three LMP1 cars for Porsche and Audi at Le Mans this year was the first cut.

In a release from Audi on Wednesday, Audi confirmed it will still press on in FIA Formula E – where it can demonstrate electric technology – and also in DTM. No final decision has yet been made concerning a future involvement in the FIA World Rallycross Championship (World RX), although in that series, Mattias Ekstrom won this year’s title.

“We’re going to contest the race for the future on electric power,” said Chairman of the Board of Management Rupert Stadler.

“As our production cars are becoming increasingly electric, our motorsport cars, as Audi’s technological spearheads, have to even more so.”

Over an 18-year run, Audi won the 24 Hours of Le Mans 13 times between 2000 and 2014, before sister brand Porsche has won it the last two years.

“After 18 years in prototype racing that were exceptionally successful for Audi, it’s obviously extremely hard to leave,” said Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich.

“Audi Sport Team Joest shaped the WEC during this period like no other team. I would like to express my thanks to our squad, to Reinhold Joest and his team, to the drivers, partners and sponsors for this extremely successful cooperation. It’s been a great time!”

The FIA World Endurance Championship has offered a pair of statements from its heads, ACO President Pierre Fillon and WEC CEO Gerard Neveu, respectively.

“It was with emotion that we all learned this morning about Audi’s decision to withdraw from endurance racing,” Fillon said as part of his.  “Although prepared for this, we regret the departure of a major figure in endurance racing for a different adventure.

“Present at Le Mans since 1999, the German firm has written some of the finest and strongest pages in the history books for the 24 Hours of Le Mans and, more recently, the WEC. More than a competitor, the marque with the four rings has been a real contributor in recent years to the tremendous growth of endurance racing across the world.”

Neveu added, “We understand this decision, although obviously we regret the departure of a major player in the WEC.  Audi has been involved in endurance racing for 15 years, and more particularly in the first five seasons of the FIA World Endurance Championship.

“Today we spare a thought first for everyone at Audi Sport and at Team Joest.  Drivers, engineers, mechanics and team members for whom this news is painful. We offer them our admiration and gratitude for their extraordinary sporting performances in the WEC since 2012.”

Toyota and Porsche have also expressed sadness over Audi’s departure:

This is gutting news, but this is when you have to say thanks for the memories and understand the business climate of the decision.

Formula E announces Portland, Oregon as US race in 2023

Formula E Portland 2023
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The American date for the 2023 Formula E schedule will move from Brooklyn, New York to Portland, Oregon on June 24, 2023, filling the calendar at 16 rounds. This will be the first time in the nine-year history of the series that they have raced on the West Coast in only the third different city in the United States. Miami hosted one Formula E race in 2015. The series has visited the United States every season except 2020 due to the COVID-1+9 pandemic.

The 2023 race will be Round 12.

“We are excited to bring the premier electric motorsport world championship to Portland for the first time in June next year,” said Alberto Longo, Co-Founder & Chief Championship Officer, Formula E in a press release. “There is a big, passionate fanbase for professional sports in the city, together with strong ecological credentials which makes Portland a perfect host for the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship.

“The USA remains an important market for Formula E. We are delighted to maintain that critical presence and engage a new audience in the Pacific Northwest region in all-electric motorsport.”

MORE: McLaren Racing’s Ian James organization’s entry into Formula E

Last year’s American round in Brooklyn was made up of two races with Nick Cassidy from Envision Racing winning Race 1 and António da Costa from DS Techeetah taking the second race.

Portland will host only one Formula E race in 2023.

The 2023 season will be highlighted by the new Gen 3 car, which features a battery capable of generating 350 kilowatts with regeneration capability from both the front and rear axles. This contributes to a top speed of 200 miles per hour (m.p.h.), an increase of about 25 m.p.h. from last year.

The 2023 season also marks the entry of two new iconic teams, Maserati and McLaren, who completed their roster of drivers in late November with the addition of Jake Hughes.

Season 9 Calendar

Round 1:  January 3, Mexico City, Mexico
Rounds 2 & 3: January 27-28, Diriyah, Saudi Arabia
Round 4: February 11, Hyderabad, India*
Round 5: February 6, Cape Town, South Africa*
Round 6: March 8, São Paulo, Brazil*
Rounds 7 & 8: April 22-23, Berlin, Germany
Round 9: May 6, Monaco
Rounds 10 & 11: June 3-4, Jakarta, Indonesia
Round 12: June 24, Portland, Oregon*
Rounds 13 & 14: July 15-16, Rome, Italy
Rounds 15 & 16: July 29-30, London

*subject to final FIA Safety and Technical checks,