Despite withdrawing from the FIA World Endurance Championship Audi has confirmed its presence in the World Rallycross Championship for 2017 as a factory team with Mattias Ekstrom's EKS squad.
After being hit by the financial impact of parent company Volkswagen's emissions scandal, Audi announced it would be leaving WEC and Le Mans 24 Hours at the end of 2016.
However, a rigorous motorsport realignment at the German manufacturer has seen it extend its involvement in Formula E to become a factory-backed effort, while the same will also be applied in World Rallycross.
Audi will support defending drivers' and teams' champions Ekstrom and his EKS RX squad for 2017 with the development of its Audi S1 EKS RX quattro.
“We realise that it's going to be increasingly difficult for EKS to hold its own against the factory teams, so we chose to intensify our World RX commitment,” Head of Audi Motorsport Dieter Gass said.
Ekstrom, who has also been retained in Audi's DTM driver line-up for 2017, is thrilled to secure factory backing and sees it as vital by pointing to the potential future of the sport with the introduction of electric cars.
“We laid a lot of groundwork as a team in the first three years, gathered important experiences and set new standards with EKS,” Ekstrom said. “But it was also clear to us that we'd need support for the future in order to be able to continue on this level.
“That EKS is now receiving factory backing by Audi makes me very happy. I'm convinced that rallycross has a great future, also with respect to potential electrification.”