Audi has decided to pull the plug on its World Endurance Championship (WEC) commitment after 18 years, choosing instead to focus on Formula E from 2017 onwards. The change reflects a renewed focus on electric power – both in production and racing – for the Audi brand.

The World Endurance Championship has been a happy hunting ground for Audi for nearly two decades, with 13 Le Mans wins coming in that period. It was the first brand to win at Le Mans with a turbocharged petrol engine, the first to win using a diesel engine, and the first to win with a hybrid.

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

As the WEC door closes, another will open in Formula E. Audi has been involved with Team ABT Schaeffler since it joined the fledgling race series, and recently announced it will be increasing its commitment. Eventually, this should lead to a full factory-backed Audi team lining up on the Formula E grid.

Should it commit to the series it will join Jaguar, Renault and Mercedes.