Audi has announced it will not take part in the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (DTM) beyond the 2020 season.
The German firm issued an announcement on Monday, stating it was looking to set its focus on its Formula E and customer racing programs.
It also cited the negative economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic which has severely hampered the automotive industry worldwide.
However, Audi’s future in the championship was already in question before the pandemic.
This decision comes as a blow to the championship and leaves BMW as the sole manufacturer in the series.
Audi’s Chairman of the Board of Management, Markus Duesmann, said while DTM remains an important part of Audi’s future – and vice versa – it’s focus is now on the future.
“Audi has shaped the DTM and the DTM has shaped Audi. This demonstrates what power lies in motorsport – technologically and emotionally.
“With this energy, we’re going to drive our transformation into a provider of sporty, sustainable electric mobility forward. That’s why we’re also focusing our efforts on the race track and systematically competing for tomorrow’s ‘Vorsprung.’
“Formula E offers a very attractive platform for this. To complement it, we’re investigating other progressive motorsport formats for the future.”
ITR Chairman Gerhard Berger issued a statement, admitting that the DTM’s future is now up in the air following German brands withdrawal.
“Today is a difficult day for motorsport in Germany and across Europe.
“I deeply regret Audi’s decision to withdraw from the DTM after the 2020 season. While we respect the board’s position, the short-term nature of this announcement presents ITR, our partner BMW, and our teams with a number of specific challenges.
“Given our common association, and the particular difficulties we all face during the COVID-19 pandemic, we would have hoped for a more united approach.
“This decision worsens the situation, and the future of the DTM now very much depends on how our partners and sponsors react to this decision. Nevertheless, I fully expect Audi to undertake its planned exit properly, responsibly and in full partnership with ITR.
“My commitment remains to the year ahead, and to ensuring we provide our hundreds of thousands of fans with a thrilling and competitive season.
“But, as soon as possible, I also want to create planning security for our participating teams, sponsors and everybody whose job depends on the DTM.”
Audi had been an integral part of the DTM since the championship’s relaunch in 2000, winning seven constructors titles since 2004.