In the wake of the Volkswagen Diesel scandal, many of the VW Group’s sub-brands had to cut costs to stay afloat. Audi was one of those brands, and to save some dough, it removed the 24 Hours of Le Mans from its motorsport calendar after 18 straight years of competition. Roger Penske thought he might be able to bring Audi’s LMP1 cars back from the grave for this year’s race, but according to him, Audi wouldn’t let it happen.
Motorsport got the chance to talk to Penske about running the German automaker’s old cars at this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans race. Penske approached Audi for the proposition, but Audi wasn’t having any of it. “I talked about if we could get a privateer [effort] with some of those cars,” he said. “But under the current situation with Audi, all the things they’re going through, they just said they’ve got enough eyeballs on them, they don’t need to be showing up at Le Mans.”
Audi never got farther than a 1:8 scale model for its 2017 LMP1 car before the program was shut down. If it did agree to Penske’s offer, the team would have to run with last year’s cars. However, with this news, it’s becoming clear we won’t see any factory Audis at Le Mans this year.