Audi Motorsports Division has gone through some major changes and consolidation due to parent company Volkswagen’s diesel gate controversy. We all expected Audi to eventually make it back to major Factory backed racing, however if recent rumors are to be believed a major Audi motorsports announcement could be coming as soon as next week’s New York International Auto Show.
Audi was recently at the FIA’s not so secret meetings to discuss the future of Formula 1 engines. They were the only manufactuer represented that isn’t currently providing F1 power units. It doesn’t take an advanced calculus professor to do the math on that one. Clearly Audi has more than a passing interest in joining Formula 1. Given existing relationships Sauber was rumored to be their partner of choice.
However the tenor of the FIA talks surrounded the 2022 regulations and in motorsports time 5 years is an eternity. Audi has plans to launch a new program much sooner than that. So if it’s not Formula 1 and not the WEC what could it be? Head of Audi Motorsport Dieter Gass has shed some light on Audi’s plans in a recent interview.
“We are looking at DPi. I think it’s an interesting category. We have seen very nice races so far for the start. When it’s the time to consider, we’ll make a decision.” Gass said. ““I think it’s an interesting approach for sure. What we’ve seen so far, it’s working well. It’s something to be watched closely.”
Make no mistake folks, DPi is on the rise, based on interest alone the North American Prototype formula is poised for a massive explosion. DPi already features 3 manufacturers including Mazda, Nissan and Cadillac. Honda and motorsport legend Penske are a year away from joining the party. Audi’s former BFF and team partner Joest Racing has expressed major interest in the category. Alfa Romeo, Ford and Bentley have all expressed interest and now you can add Audi to that list.
This is what the glory days of prototype racing was like. The old World Sports Car Championship and Camel GT series were full of multiple major manufacturers doing battle amongst themselves. It was a far cry from recent years where we’ve become accustomed to 2 factory teams and were thrilled to have 3.
Yes the spaceships currently racing in LMP1 are technical marvels but they’re also stupendously expensive. Their budgets rival that of Formula 1 in half as many races. DPi is the bargain of the century in comparison. The manufacturer gets all the brand recognition they want with minimal effort (comparatively speaking). A third-party constructor builds the majority of the chassis and then works with the manufacturer to integrate their engine and custom body work. For example the Cadillacs that won the 36 hours of Florida are simply known as the Cadillac DPi.V-R, not a Dallara-Cadillac.
This is why everyone is flocking to DPi to see what the class is all about. Audi is officially one of those manufacturers expressing interest. That could go from an interest to official announcement as early as next week. We will be in New York for all the Auto Show action including (hopefully) a big motorsports announcement from Audi.