Audi believes this year's Sebring 12 Hours will be an emotional occasion as the firm prepares to enter the race for the final time with LMP1 machinery.
The German manufacturer has scored 10 wins in the American Le Mans Series opener, which it first entered in 1999. LMP1 cars will not be eligible at Sebring after this season, as the race will form part of the unified sports car series when the ALMS merges with Grand-Am in2014.
"Without a shadow of a doubt it'll be an emotional race weekend for us," said head of Audi motorsport Wolfgang Ullrich. "Sebring and its fantastic fans enjoy a very special status in both our motorsport and LMP history. It was always a fixed date in our motorsport calendar since the beginning of our sports car program in 1999. The race will once again be the perfect dress rehearsal for the forthcoming WEC season and the 24-hour race at Le Mans."
Team Joest technical director Ralf Juttner added: "We travel to Sebring a little downhearted. It's a real shame that LMP1 sports cars will not be allowed to start anymore in this legendary race."
Audi will take two cars to Sebring, including one 2013-specification R18 (ABOVE) for Lucas di Grassi, Tom Kristensen and Allan McNish.
WEC champions and Le Mans winners Marcel Fassler and Benoit Treluyer will drive a 2012-spec car, with Oliver Jarvis completing the lineup.
McNish, who has four Sebring wins to his name, said he was pleased that Audi decided to keep the race on its 2013 schedule even though it is not part of the world championship.
"It was really great news when I heard that Audi would race at Sebring in 2013," he said. "This race is an important part of our sports car history. That there is also a hint of goodbye hanging over the event gives the whole thing a special touch.
"Just like the entire team, I will do my utmost to bid Sebring farewell with a win. That would make me very proud."
AUDI AT SEBRING IN NUMBERS:
3 deficit in laps to winning BMW on debut of R8R in 1999
7 one-two finishes
1 times Audi has missed Sebring since 1999 (2010)