And the truth is that were another team going to fill the huge hole in the sport that will appear if Audi leaves, it would need to be racing 18 months from now, so the chances are we’d already know of its existence. In the meantime more and more manufacturers are piling into Formula E: Audi is increasing its involvement, Jaguar has just joined and Mercedes-Benz has already signed up for the 2018-19 season.
So the ACO needs to make the business of winning Le Mans a whole lot cheaper and easier and there are two ways this can happen: it can simplify the regulations in such way that it becomes viable for smaller teams to built competitive prototypes or it can effectively outlaw the prototypes altogether and turn it into a GT Formula where Porsche, Ferrari, Aston Martin, Corvette, Ford are already present and shortly to be joined by BMW. And don’t scoff for it has happened before: in the mid-1990s prototypes were not banned but had their wings so severely clipped as to render them uncompetitive against the likes of the McLaren F1. And I don’t remember too many people complaining about that.
But all that is for the future. For now, if it does turn out that Audi is leaving sports car racing, no-one will deny it’s the end of an era and that the sport will be poorer as a result. I hope the ACO’s plans to fill the void are already well advanced.
Photography courtesy of LAT