Audi has confirmed it will withdraw all efforts in the FIA World Endurance Championship and Le Mans to focus on Formula E from 2017.

The German manufacturer broke the news to its motorsport department, detailing it as a 'strategic decision in the context of the current burdens on the brand, to focus on the things that would keep Audi competitive in the years ahead'.

At the end of the 2016 WEC season in Bahrain, Audi will cease all LMP1 operations in order to switch development work to the all-electric series having recently announced it would turn the ABT Schaeffler squad into a full factory team next year.

"We're going to contest the race for the future on electric power," Audi's chairman of the board Rupert Stadler said. "As our production cars are becoming increasingly electric, our motorsport cars, as Audi's technological spearheads, have to even more so."

Audi has also confirmed it will continue its efforts in DTM for the foreseeable future as well as the FIA World Rallycross championship with its support of world champions Audi EKS RX squad.

Over the past 18 years of competing in endurance racing Audi has clinched 13 victories at the prestigious Le Mans 24 Hours, while also becoming two-time WEC champions with its Audi R18 e-tron quattro. Audi also secured nine consecutive American Le Mans Series titles between 2000 and 2008.

"After 18 years in prototype racing that were exceptionally successful for Audi, it's obviously extremely hard to leave," head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich said. "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."

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wow it sure has been a fun ride Every year I watched them here in the USA even the barking dog in 1999 they sure were fast at COTA way faster than anyone else .man I remember the R8 that could switch out it's complete rear end tansaxle in under 5 minutes everyone else cried foul they just did the engineering ! oh well adios ! maybe time to start winding down my participation also I remember Daytona in 1952!

This is a great shame for the series, but I suspect the diesel emissions issue is probably the root cause. I wonder when the ACO found out?
Hopefully only a temporary withdrawal, and they return - maybe using Hydrogen Cell power as a pure electric car (which is where Formula E needs to head).

Maybe their direct involvement will help to drive the formula forward - because it needs that badly if it is to remain a viable long term prospect.