In the hot seat

A personal, physical experience of motorsport, power and speed: Audi Sport makes this fascinating adventure possible with its Audi RS 5 DTM race taxi. Read about the hot ride in the passenger’s seat next to a successful professional racer.

06/26/2019 Reading Time: 4 min

Benoît Tréluyer and a passenger in the Audi RS 5 DTM race raxi

A NEW AUTOMOTIVE UNIVERSE

“Boy, it’s hot in here!” This is usually the first reaction after a guest of Audi Sport has climbed into the DTM race taxi, an Audi RS 5 DTM with a retrofitted passenger seat. Welcome to the universe of a pedigreed prototype touring car! In which practically everything is new to a normal car user: a skin-tight, deep seat shell, a taught, full-belt safety harness, a surrounding safety cell made of carbon fibre and steel tubes. The passenger wrapped in a fireproof racing suit. A full-visor helmet on the head. Plus, this unusual heat of 50 degrees Celsius, and even up to 60 on extra hot days.  

 

A passenger getting into the Audi RS 5 DTM race taxi
Thomas Dreßen

PERFECTLY TAKEN CARE OF

Anyone climbing into Audi’s DTM race taxi is a welcome guest. If he or she meets the basic physical prerequisites: no taller than 1.95 metres, no heavier than 100 kilograms. Booking information is available here. Apart from important customers, partners and quiz winners, plenty of celebrities have sat in the hot front-right seat: football players like Franz Beckenbauer, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Lionel Messi and Ronhaldinho. Professional skiers like Maria Höfl-Riesch, Evi Sachenbacher, Felix Neureuther, Marcel Hirscher and Thomas Dreßen (pictured left) as well as actors, musicians or polititians.

A passenger and Maike Frik

The DTM race taxi passengers are taken care of by employees of Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline, which, in addition to two of the DTM racing commitments, handles the passenger ride activities. The key contact person is Maike Frik from the DTM organisation of Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline. Prior to the unforgettable passenger experience, all necessary forms have to be filled in and signed. All other details also have to perfectly fit for every speed traveller before getting started: racing suit, racing shoes and the racing helmet including HANS. HANS is the acronym for Head and Neck Support, a safety system connected with the helmet that keeps the head from jolting forwards in an accident.

Audi RS 5 DTM race taxi on the racetrack

TAXI WITH NEARLY 500 HP

Red, wide, flat: this is how Audi’s DTM race taxi awaits its guests on DTM race weekends. Even just visually: an absolute eye-catcher. The number 28 touring car is one of two Audi RS 5 DTM cars for taxi activities. Their home base is at the facilities of long-standing Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline in Kempten, where they’re serviced and from where they’re also taken to the venues.  

Benoît Tréluyer and a passenger in the Audi RS 5 DTM race raxi

The taxi version of the Audi RS 5 DTM is largely identical to the DTM cars that were fielded in the DTM up until 2018. A second carbon-fibre seat is additionally installed in the cabin. Plus, there’s an on-board camera that’s primarily focused on the passenger and captures every moment of the thrill he or she feels in the hot seat.

The key technical data of the DTM race taxi: V8 naturally aspirated engine with 4.0-litre displacement, about 500 hp (367 kW), about 500 Nm of torque, 1,115 kilograms of weight (incl. driver) and thus about half a metric tonne lighter than the production models of the Audi RS 5. Versus the racing version, the size of the fuel tank was reduced from 120 to 40 litres.

Benoît Tréluyer next to the Audi RS 5 DTM race raxi
Hans-Joachim Stuck and the Audi RS 5 DTM race raxi

FULL-THROTTLE CHAUFFEURS

Audi puts the fate of its race taxi guests into safe steering hands. One of the full-throttle chauffeurs during DTM weekends in 2019 is Benoît Tréluyer. The 42-year-old Frenchman has been an Audi racing driver since 2010. In 2012, Tréluyer was World Endurance Champion and has won the 24-hour classic at Le Mans three times (2011, 2012, 2014). Before him, a number of notable Audi Sport drivers had taken the wheel of the DTM race taxi: Daniel Abt, Kelvin van der Linde, Dindo Capello, Tom Kristensen, Frank Biela, Marco Werner, Pierre Kaffer, Christopher Mies, Rahel Frey, Lucas di Grassi and Hans-Joachim Stuck (pictured right). By the way: in 2015, touring car legend ‘Strietzel’ Stuck, who was DTM Champion in the Audi V8 quattro in 1990, drove a DTM car of the new generation introduced in 2012 for the first time as an Audi race taxi driver.

Audi RS 5 DTM race taxi on the racetrack

UNKNOWN LIMITS

The passenger sits, is buckled up and the doors are closed. At the front, underneath the bonnet, the V8 engine is firing up. Cockpit temperatures are like those in a sauna. Sweat is dripping and the heart rate rising – and suspense even more so. Ready to go!

Benoît Tréluyer puts the car in first gear using the paddle shifter on the steering wheel, releases the clutch by pulling a lever and floors the pedal. Rumbling and roaring, the red racing machine shoots down the pit lane and out onto the track. Business as usual for Tréluyer at the wheel and a flash-like move into an all-new dimension of locomotion for any of his ‘rookie co-drivers’.

“Most guests are really deeply impressed right after the first turn,” says Benoît Tréluyer. By the power, the acceleration, the engine sound and the grip. But above all, the passengers in the DTM race taxi are surprised by the braking manoeuvres: the driver lifts, the engine becomes quieter and then, like out of the middle of nowhere, there’s this awesomely loud whistling noise. It’s produced by the pump that keeps the fuel pressure within its optimal range. The biting smell of carbon fibre dust, chafed off the brake discs every time the four brake callipers put their gruelling grip on them. The whole body starts shaking while it’s being thrust forwards into the safety harness with brutal force: a totally awesome state for the sensory system of any non-racing driver.

Audi RS 5 DTM race taxi on the racetrack

Wham, the car has turned into the corner. Wham, it has crossed the apex. Wham, the driver floors the pedal again. Wham, the car rumbles over the rough kerbs while exiting the corner.  Not the least bit of spring and damping comfort: racing cars like the Audi RS 5 DTM have a suspension that’s set up for maximum grip. Equally unusual and impressive: the centrifugal forces while cornering are nearly three times as high as those in a road car, in other words, about 3 g instead of 1 g.

The experience during a DTM race taxi ride gets extremely close to normal racing: “I use about 90 per cent of the potential, in a race it’s 95 per cent,” explains Benoît Tréluyer. This means that, on average, he’s barely one second slower per lap than in a regular racing car. “Our guests don’t really notice this difference. They experience an absolutely realistic racing feeling,” the Frenchman emphasises. The taxi version of the Audi RS 5 DTM accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in 2.8 seconds and achieves a top speed of about 275 km/h.

TOTAL ‘FLASH’

Warm-up lap, flying lap, cool-down lap: after that, the action-packed excursion into the high-speed spheres of auto racing is over “Wow!” “Great!“ ”Good job!” or “Thank you!“: almost all of the initial reactions by DTM race taxi guests are very brief. Some of the guests are even speechless at first. “The emotions about what they just experienced on the track only come out after we’ve stopped again,” says chauffeur Tréluyer. “Without exception, our race taxi guests are overwhelmed, totally stunned by the many impressions and there has never been anyone who regretted having climbed into the car,” adds passenger support specialist Maike Frik. Plus, no-one will soon forget this extremely direct motorsport experience from the DTM race taxi!

Passengers next to the Audi RS 5 DTM race taxi

DTM
RACE TAXI

Race helmets
Two Audi RS 5 DTM race taxi
Benoît Tréluyer and a passenger

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