With the 2017 almost upon us RaceDepartment have a look at the six former Audi Sport LMP1 drivers looking for new employment heading into the new racing season. Following the shock announcement back in October that the former all conquering Audi Sport team was to withdraw from Prototype endurance racing at the close of 2016, six of the best modern day endurance drivers found themselves without a drive heading into 2017. With the undoubted calibre of all six drivers no doubt attractive to a wide range of teams throughout the world of motorsport, it seems like a good time to see what the drivers will be up to during the new season. Marcel Fässler Age: 40 WEC Wins: 10 WEC Podiums: 25 WEC Drivers Championships: 1 (2012) The rapid Swiss has quickly found himself a new berth at the Corvette Racing squad for 2017, moving back to GT endurance driving alongside former Daytona 24 hour teammates Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner in the bright yellow #4 C7.R. Fässler will be joining up with the Corvette Racing team for both Daytona and Sebring races in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. Indeed Fässler has already made the headlines at Daytona as he looks to defend his victory from twelve months ago when the #4 spectacularly caught fire whilst out on track. Both team and driver maintain they will be ready for the 24h event on January 28th. Fässler has also contested the Dubai 24 Hour sportscar race at the wheel of an Audi R8 LMS where he finished in 6th position. It appears no full time plans have been confirmed for the driver heading into the main racing season other than his Corvette long distance drives in IMSA. André Lotterer Age: 35 WEC Wins: 10 WEC Podiums: 26 WEC Drivers Championships: 1 (2012) Lotterer has had perhaps the most fruitful off season of all the former Audi Sport drivers, with news that the versatile German has secured a prime seat to remain in the World Endurance Championship at the wheel of a Porsche 919 LMP1 car for 2017. With Porsche having swept all before them since returning to top tier endurance racing back in 2014, the new season will surely mark Lotterer's best chance of adding to his solitary World Championship earned in 2012. Perversely Lotterer will maintain ties with Porsche rivals Toyota in 2017 as the German continues his fruitful Super Formula career at the wheel of TOM’S Super Formula squad alongside Toyota WEC driver Kazuki Nakajima. Lotterer has raced the powerful Japanese open wheel series for the past 14 years, helping himself to a drivers championship in 2011 alongside his 23 career wins in the series. Benoît Tréluyer Age: 40 WEC Wins: 10 WEC Podiums: 24 WEC Drivers Championships: 1 (2012) Likeable Frenchman Tréluyer has perhaps the lowest profile of all the former Audi Sport LMP1 drivers, but that shouldn't detract from an enviable career and no compromise attitude that mark Tréluyer as one of the best endurance drivers of his generation. Having spent a large proportion of his career in the highly competitive Japan Super GT series as well as an impressive twelve starts in the Le Mans 24 Hour, Tréluyer is indeed a talented and versatile racing driver. With such a late call from Audi regarding their future endurance plans Tréluyer has found some difficulty finding a ride for the coming season, however that hasn't stopped the Frenchman from competing in the off season Andros Trophy ice racing event for the Audi Club Team W Racing Team, a first foray into the world of ice racing for the three time Le Mans winner. Tréluyer has secured the drive for the whole season, however plans for the remainder of 2017 remain open at this stage of the year. Lucas Di Grassi Age: 32 WEC Wins: 2 WEC Podiums: 14 WEC Drivers Championships: 0 If ever there was an award for what could have been, Lucas Di Grassi's name will be somewhere at the top of the favourites pile without doubt. A junior career full obvious pace never quite materialised into tangible championship results (although a brace of top three season finishes in GP2 wasn't a bad haul) until the call to drive for new Formula One team Manor came towards the end of 2009. With a few years working on the fringes of the sport behind him, Di Grassi would endure a difficult season in 2010 as the Manor car failed to live up to the hopes of the team. Sadly the popular Brazilian would find himself out of a drive at season end, bringing down the curtain on his Grand Prix aspirations just as it appeared his luck was finally taking a turn for the better. A couple of years in the wilderness followed before Audi Sport stepped in and offered a drive in their now ailing Prototype squad, whereupon Di Grassi finally managed to show his true potential, albeit hamstrung by a now less competitive LMP1 squad. Having marked his name as a star of endurance racing in recent years, 2017 looks to be bit of a transition year for the Brazilian. Maintaining his ties with the Ingolstadt marque in Formula E, Di Grassi will continue to contest the all electric series at the wheel of his ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport machine. Loïc Duval Age: 34 WEC Wins: 6 WEC Podiums: 19 WEC Drivers Championships: 1 (2013) And now for something completely different! Having made his name in recent seasons sharing an Audi Sport R18 LMP1 prototype in long distance endurance racing, Duval has switched his attentions to the cut and thrust world of high performance touring cars for 2017. Remaining under the Audi umbrella, Duval has signed a deal to become a works DTM driver in 2017 as well as maintaining his Faraday Future Dragon Racing drive in the all electric Formula E series, a championship in which the Frenchman has competed in on off for the past couple of season, with a brace of podiums to his name. 2017 is a change of code for a driver with impressive pedigree in open wheel and GT machines, partnered alongside three of the most experienced DTM drivers in the form of Mattias Ekström, Jamie Green and Mike Rockenfeller, 2017 should be a learning year for the driver but no one will be surprised if the talented Frenchman finds himself right at the very sharp end by the close of the upcoming season. Oliver Jarvis Age: 32 WEC Wins: 2 WEC Podiums: 9 WEC Drivers Championships: 0 Oli Jarvis is the youngest of the departing Audi Prototype drivers, and at 32 remains right at the very peak of his driving ability. The British driver has much to look forward to heading into the new season as he has a deal to drive one of the two Bentley Continental GT3's in both the Blancpain Endurance Series and the epic Australian 12 hour race at Bathurst in February. Following the withdrawal of Audi at the end of last season Jarvis indicated he was keep to remain in the WEC for this year, however a works drive in one of Britain's greatest marques has proven too big of an opportunity to turn down. With both GT3 spec racing and the Blancpain Endurance Series both riding high on an ever increasing popularity, the deal by Jarvis could prove to be a shrewd move by the Englishman as he looks to maintain a professional GT racing career. No doubt 2017 will provide ample opportunity for Jarvis to add to his growing number reputation as one of the best long distance drivers in the world. All in all it looks like 2017 will be a spectacular year for much of the former Audi LMP1 driving strength, now spread across a wide array of different motorsport series. With rumoured returns to prototype racing for a number of manufactures doing the rounds, and the recent announcement that Ginetta plan to build a customer spec machine ready for 2018, the coming year might still represent a temporary exile from the WEC for a few of those mentioned above. Here at RaceDepartment we cover a wide range of real and virtual motorsports from around the world. If you want to know more about the World Endurance Championship, or you are just looking to hang around and chat with fellow fans of endurance racing, then head on over to our RaceDepartment WEC sub forum and join in today! Who do you think is most likely to achieve success in the coming year? Are you surprised at the lack of offers from other current WEC teams in the Audi refugees? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!