Audi’s return to the top level of sports car racing is still on track for 2023, but it has reportedly scaled back in ambition already. While the team will still race factory cars in the World Endurance Championship, RACER reports that their announced American-based factory IMSA program has been canceled and will instead be replaced by customer cars.
The news is a blow to the IMSA grid, which is expected to feature full-time factory entries in some form from BMW, Porsche, Cadillac, and Acura when the LMDh class debuts. While Audi should still be represented on the grid, potentially even with some works-level customer support for the teams fielding the cars, those cars will no longer be the full-on factory efforts expected to be run either directly by the other LMDh manufacturers or in close partnership with an existing team. While BMW and Acura have not announced any partners, Porsche’s factory deal is with Penske Racing and Cadillac’s operation is split between factory-level programs by both Chip Ganassi Racing and Action Express Racing.
Speculation on the future of the new top classes at Le Mans and Daytona is rampant, but all indications are that more manufacturers will eventually follow this group. On the Hypercar side, Dodge is said to be considering at least a part-time program with a re-branded version of Peugeot’s 9X8 that could start as early as 2023. By that season, Toyota and Ferrari will also have both eligible cars and close partners within the US to race them if they decide IMSA races interest them. Additionally, Lamborghini and Alpine are far enough along in their attempts to race in the LMDh class that their executives are commenting on the process, but neither has yet indicated if their programs could include an IMSA component. For the full story, check out this article from Road & Track.