Audi has had one of the most successful runs of any team in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and soon its story will continue with a new chapter involving an LMDh (Le Mans Daytona hybrid) effort.
LMDh is a new class for sports prototypes that will serve as the top class for both the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and World Endurance Championship, the latter the series which plays host to the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The first season for LMDh will be 2023, and teams fielding cars in this class will be able to compete in both series.
In WEC, LMDh will sit at the top alongside the new LMH (Le Mans Hypercar) class whose first season is about to get underway. Balance of Performance rules will be used to even the playing field. Toyota, Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus, Peugeot, Ferrari and ByKolles are signed up for LMH while Porsche, Acura and Audi are signed up for LMDh.
2014 Audi R18 e-tron quattro
Yes, Porsche and Audi are set to compete against one another again at Le Mans, though this time there will be close collaboration between the two, Audi said on Thursday in an update on its LMDh campaign.
Audi's LMDh racer is the successor to its last sports prototype, the R18. The LMDh racer has big shoes to fill as the R18 and its predecessors saw Audi take home 13 overall wins in the 24 Hours of Le Mans over the past two decades. Audi customer teams also scored overalls victories in 2004 and 2005.
Because of the lower cost of LMDh cars compared to earlier sports prototypes, Audi expects its new car to be interesting for even more customer teams.
“Our goal is to also put the car in the hands of professional customer teams right from the start, in parallel to factory entries,” Andreas Roos, head of Audi's factory motorsport efforts, said in a statement.
Audi said its LMDh racer is being developed alongside Porsche's car but will be distinctly Audi, particularly in its exterior design which is still being developed. Audi has already chosen a chassis partner from the four available partners (Dallara, Ligier, Multimatic and Oreca) and has also locked in its powertrain concept.
Audi expects to start testing of its LMDh racer in 2022. Its first race will be the 2023 24 Hours of Daytona, the opening race of the 2023 WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.