If you’re going to quit, at least do it with a loud bang. This is what just Volkswagen and Audi did in their last races of the 2016 season.
In late October, Audi chairman Rupert Stadler said that the brand is quitting from the World Endurance Championship campaign as it shifts its focus to the all-electric Formula E series. With this announcement, Audi effectively ended its dominance at the Le Mans 24 Hours. Stadler quipped that since Audi’s production cars are increasingly becoming electric, its motorsport cars should also follow suit.
Just a week after in early November, VW called it quits with the World Rally Championships. VW came into world rallying in 2013, and has since been dominant. In fact, VW secured 42 wins in 51 rallies – excluding the 2016 Rally Australia – and has recently grabbed the driver’s and manufacturer’s championship – its fourth in as many years.
VW’s decision to quit WRC is underpinned by the same reason as to why Audi dropped from the WEC – to focus on the electrified and important future technologies. However, VW will still be involved in customer racing, the Golf GTI TCR on the circuit track and the Beetle GRC in rallycross. It also plans to create a new Polo racer according to R5 specifications, which means there will be a VW Polo rally car.
Audi had its last WEC race on Nov. 19, 2016 at the 6 Hours of Bahrain. As its farewell race, Audi made sure that it won’t deny itself of a win in the LMP1 category. Much more than that, Audi secured a 1-2 finish at Bahrain. On top of the podium is the No. 8 Audi R18 car driven by Lucas Di Grassi, Loic Duval and Oliver Jarvis, finishing a total of 201 laps and clocking six hours and 12.387 seconds.
Coming second at around 16 seconds behind is the No. 7 Audi R18 car piloted by Marcel Fassler, Andre Lotterer and Benoit Treluyer. Overall, Audi finished second in the WEC season both in the manufacturer’s and driver’s titles. But Audi won’t sour-grape at that especially if the champions in both fields are taken by Porsche, which is also member of the VW Group.
Volkswagen, meanwhile, had its last WRC race on Nov. 20, 2016 at Rally Australia. Just like Audi, VW secured a 1-2 finish. Finishing first is the No. 9 VW Polo R WRC piloted by the 27-year old Andreas Mikkelsen. He had a 14.9-second lead over VW compatriot and eventual WRC champion Sebastien Ogier. Since 2013, Ogier and VW have been the WRC driver’s and manufacturer’s champions, respectively. Their fourth and final win places a strong exclamation point to end VW’s heavily successful campaign in world rallying!