Hot on the heals of Honda pulling out from F1 competition, Audi, who has been kicking ass and taking names in American Le Mans competition since, well, it seems like forever, says it won't be contesting the series in 2009.
Audi WILL run at Sebring with their new R 15 TDi in '09, but other than that, nada.
This does NOT mean that Audi is quiting racing, in means there will be no factory backed effort in North America in 2009. Audi will continue racing at Le Mans, as well as competing in the DTM (which is great fun to watch), and this doesn't preclude them from offering assistance to a well sorted privateer outfit, like Audi did with Championship Racing back in 05 or 06 or whenever that was. As a matter of fact, that's the hot tip at the moment.
Of course, we will get the chance to see the factory runt he R 15 at Sebring in a couple of month. The Sebring 12 hours being a perfect shakedown for the main event on the endurance calender, The 24 Hours of Le Mans. Sebring, although half the length, can be a brutal race. the track surface is ranges from passable to terrible, the concrete sections are choppy at best, and even if it were billiard table smooth, the weather can be Biblical. It's rained so hard during some runnings of The 12 Hours that pit equipment has floated away.
So, Audi is out of North America (officially) for 09, with no official plans to return … but we'll see what the future holds (I'm betting once the R15 is fully sorted, they'll be back).