A banquet honoring Audi’s incredible 18-year-long run in top-level endurance prototype racing showed off the stillborn 2017 Audi R18 today, reports Sportscar365. This little model is our first look at the car whose development was paused when Audi withdrew from the World Endurance Championship at the end of the 2016 season. Thanks a lot, Dieselgate.

Audi engineers claimed it was the most efficient car they’d ever made, according to Audi factory hotshoe Filipe Albuquerque. Albuquerque drove Audi’s LMP1-class World Endurance Championship prototype at Le Mans in 2014 and 2015.

Both Albuquerque and fellow ex-Audi LMP1 driver Oliver Jarvis posted photos of the new R18 model on social media today. Significant aerodynamic updates were planned for the car over this year’s ride. Audi LMP1 program head Stefan Dreyer told Sportscar365 that he believed the 2017 R18 would have been “the car to beat.”

Advertisement

Advertisement

Dreyer also pointed out to Sportscar365 that the car was nearly complete when the Volkswagen Group pulled the plug:

Obviously it had not tested yet but it was very far in development and very far in getting it built.

While it’s looking increasingly unlikely that we’ll ever see it run, Volkswagen Group officials recently confirmed that they would allow a privateer to run the 2017 R18 next year, provided they could find a stable, experienced program to do so.

Either way, we’re sad that Audi won’t be there anymore. Someone, please pick up this car and race it.