Audi LMDh concept. Image: Audi Sport.

Audi has announced that its LMDh programme will have a car on track for an “intensive test program” in 2022 and following this is scheduled to make its competitive debut in January 2023 at the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona.

Audi have won Le Mans 13-times and issued an LMDh program update on Thursday including information on the car’s development timeline and plans to have both “professional customer teams” and factory entries running “right from the start”.

Daytona’s Rolex 24 in January 2023 will mark the German marque’s first return to top-level competition as a factory team since its LMP1 hybrid effort came to and end in Bahrain at the end of 2016. Audi says its new LMDh will act as the successor to the hugely successful Audi R18 LMP1.

Although Audi made no mention of a chassis provider in its update it is believed that Canadian manufacturer Multimatic has been chosen as the chosen partner company. Audi’s new car is being developed in partnership with sister VAG brand Porsche, which is also set to compete in LMDh.

“The new LMDh category fits perfectly with our new set-up in motorsport,” says Julius Seebach, Managing Director Audi Sport GmbH and responsible for Motorsport at Audi. “The regulations allow us to field fascinating race cars in prestigious races worldwide. In addition, we are making use of synergies inside the Volkswagen Group with our partner strategy.”

“Nevertheless, the new sports prototype will be just as much a genuine Audi as the Audi RS e-tron GT1 that was launched recently and has also been developed on a platform shared with Porsche.”

“With the LMDh project, we are continuing the philosophy of our early years in sports prototypes.” says LMDh project leader Andreas Roos. “The Audi R8 was not only the most successful prototype of its time from 2000 to 2006, with 63 victories in 80 races, but it was also very successful in the hands of our customers and easy for the teams to handle.

“This is also the premise with the electrification of our new sports prototype.

“Our goal is to also put the car in the hands of professional customer teams right from the start, in parallel to factory entries. We are currently evaluating internally how this will work in detail.”

The new LMDh car is currently being created in parallel with Audi’s planned SUV for the Dakar Rally. “Of course, the Dakar team is under greater time pressure, because there are only just under eight months left until our first participation in the Dakar Rally in January 2022,” added Roos, “But, we also want to be perfectly sorted for our comeback at Le Mans. That’s why we are running both projects in parallel with the highest priority.”