The first drivers for Audi Sport’s forthcoming FIA WEC LMDh effort have been revealed, with Audi Sport Formula E driver Rene Rast (above) and Envision Racing Formula E driver Nico Mueller named as part of the team’s roster.
Mueller, twice DTM runner-up and Formula E podium finisher, revealed that he will drive in the Le Mans Hypercar class with Audi’s Multimatic-based LMDh chassis, on social media.
“I am very happy to tell you guys that I’ve extended my commitment with Audi and am confirmed as one of their official LMDh drivers,” said the 29-year-old. “Important & intense months of preparation are lying ahead of us, before we go racing in 2023. Competing for the overall win at the 24h of Le Mans in an Audi, a dream come true!”
While Mueller has made numerous appearances for Audi in GT3 racing, he has no experience of competing as part of a factory effort in a prototype. He has just one FIA WEC appearance to his name, with G-Drive Racing back in 2017, driving an ORECA 07 in the 6 Hours of Shanghai.
Rast, meanwhile, will be making his return to top-level prototype racing with this drive, having spent time as an LMP1 driver back in 2015 driving in Audi’s third R18 e-tron quattro at the 6 Hours of Spa and Le Mans 24 Hours. He also made appearances in LMP2 back in 2014 and 2016 for Sebastien Loeb Racing and G-Drive Racing respectively.
The German competed as an Audi factory Formula E driver this year, and is set to return to DTM in 2022. His previous four-year run in the German championship delivered titles in 2017, 2019 and 2020.
Audi’s LMDh effort in 2023 will mark its return to the FIA WEC after a six-year absence following its withdrawl from LMP1 competition at the end of 2016. The team’s car will be based on a Multimatic LMP2 chassis, (like its sister VAG brand Porsche’s LMDh program) powered by a VAG twin-turbo V8. The team, headed by ex-Audi LMP1 driver and current Formula E team boss Allan McNish, is expected to run two full-season FIA WEC factory cars, meaning just four seats remain open.
Audi is not expected to have a full-season LMDh presence in IMSA’s top class from 2023 onwards as a works team, though there is the potential for customer teams to race stateside with Audi chassis.