Customers making careers

With four models, Audi Sport customer racing offers its largest selection of race cars for top-level international motorsport to date. The range, which is based on a total of four pillars, extends from the Audi RS 3 LMS entry-level touring car to the top-of-the-range Audi R8 LMS GT2 model, but the brand is not only distinguished by its products. They enable the targeted promotion of young talent, as two of many examples prove: The customer drivers Milan Dontje and Dennis Marschall have already succeeded in moving up as racing drivers with Audi.

11/18/2020 Reading Time: 6 min

Audi R8 LMS on the racetrack

TESTING TALENT IN TOURING CARS

Milan Dontje on the podium

MILAN DONTJE

Milan Dontje, born in 1995, has been racing with Audi since the 2017 season after his entry into circuit racing. The Dutchman from Alkmaar started karting as an eight-year-old in 2003 and once won the Dutch KZ2 Kart Championship. He also contests his first car races in his home country, before switching to German motorsport in 2017. “The Audi Sport TT Cup, especially the close competition there, was a great place for me to learn. I had a good relationship with Audi right from the start,” says Milan Dontje. The young driver finishes his season in fourth place in the Audi TT cup, which has a power output of around 340 hp.

Audi TT cup on the racetrack
Dennis Marschall on the podium

DENNIS MARSCHALL

Dennis Marschall was born in 1996, has been a racing driver since 2007 and was once runner-up in the ADAC Kart Masters. After a season in the ADAC Formula Masters, he opts for the Audi Sport TT Cup. For two years, he proves his skills there in 2015 and 2016. The German from Eggenstein-Leopoldshafen near Karlsruhe finishes his first touring car year in third place, his second as the runner-up. The talent of his father Thomas Marschall, “Mister one-make cup” of German motorsport, has obviously been passed on. “The nice thing about the TT Cup was that everyone drove with the same equipment and the same tyres,” says Marschall Junior in praise of Audi’s entry-level format, which would be offered until the end of 2017.

 

Both junior drivers also consider the media training that they completed, as part of the racing series tailored to juniors, to be very beneficial. “My father, who was a racing driver himself, never did any media training, for example, and he never really felt comfortable in front of a microphone,” shares Dennis Marschall. Milan Dontje adds: “I also learned a lot from Audi about the correct use of social media and they also help you to find sponsors.”

Audi TT cup on the racetrack
Audi R8 LMS GT4 on the racetrack

PROGRESSION INTO GT RACING

Nicolaj Møller Madsen, Max Hofer, Milan Dontje and Xiaole He

In 2018, Audi Sport customer racing launches the GT4 version of the Audi R8 LMS sports car, which has been successful since 2009. Milan Dontje immediately seizes this new opportunity to enter GT racing. The son of a Dutch chocolate producer competes with an Audi R8 LMS GT4 from Audi Sport customer team Phoenix Racing in the GT4 European Series, in selected races of the VLN Endurance Championship and in the Nürburgring 24 Hours.

 

This campaign with Audi also works out perfectly for Dontje: The mostly easy-going young racer also has the necessary talent for this close-to-production sports car with rear-wheel drive and the legendary 5.2-litre naturally-aspirated V10 engine, which develops up to 495 hp in the GT4 version. Together with the Dane Nicolaj Møller Madsen, with whom he shares the car in the races, Milan Dontje becomes the 2018 GT4 European champion. “The step into the GT4 class was a big one, but everyone at Audi has again given me great support so that I can get better and make it,” Dontje emphasizes.

Audi R8 LMS on the racetrack

TOP-CLASS SPORTS CARS

The next higher level of GT racing is the GT3 class. Dennis Marschall makes the leap into the top class of sports cars in 2017, Milan Dontje in 2019, and the car used there has long since become a racing legend: the GT3 version of the Audi R8 LMS (430 kW/585 PS). It has won all of the major endurance races and renowned championships around the globe.

Dennis Marschall

“I particularly appreciate the mid-engine in the Audi R8 LMS,” says Dennis Marschall. “The car is very agile, which is especially helpful on tracks in the ADAC GT Masters.” On the German stage for GT3 sports cars, Marschall competed for Audi customer team Rutronik Racing in 2020. Two pole positions were important proof of performance for the business administration student. They did not remain hidden from Audi either. And so it came to Dennis Marschall’s absolute highlight of the year: the invitation to one of the major endurance races in the Audi R8 LMS. “The last-minute call from Audi Sport customer racing for the Spa 24 Hours was the best thing that could have happened to me,” sums up Marschall.

Milan Dontje

“My top event in 2020 was driving the Audi R8 LMS in the Nürburgring 24 Hours,” explains Milan Dontje. He competed in the endurance classic in the “Green Hell” with Audi sports driver Patric Niederhauser and Berlin-based Mike David Ortmann for the Audi Sport customer team Car Collection Motorsport. In adverse weather conditions during autumn in the Eifel region, the team did very well: Although a teammate was missing in the line-up, the remaining trio showed their performance and finished second in the Pro-Am classification. For Peter Schmidt’s team from Walluf in the Rheingau region, the Dutchman and his teammates also competed in races of the Nürburgring Endurance Series (NLS) in 2020.

Audi R8 LMS in the garage

HOBBY OR PROFESSION

Milan Dontje in the cockpit

Milan Dontje and Dennis Marschall have different goals for their futures in motorsport. “I’m not just focused on racing, like all of the professionals,” Milan Dontje assures. For him, his main job is his newly founded investment company. The karting centre that he ran at home in Alkmaar for five years with his brother Indy, also a racing driver, was sold in the summer of 2020. But, even as an amateur, he still has great motorsport goals. “Le Mans is definitely on my list and I would also like to race in the USA,” says Dontje. A race at the Daytona Speedway would also appeal to him in particular.

Dennis Marschall wearing helmet

Dennis Marschall will finish his business administration studies at the beginning of 2021. However, he does not want to work full-time in the field of IT marketing, where he has already gained a great deal of practical experience in addition to motorsport: “When you’ve driven in the Audi Sport TT Cup and the ADAC GT Masters as a junior driver, you naturally have the hope of one day getting a contract with a manufacturer. In this way, for example, to progress from being a private driver to an Audi Sport driver. Just as his current teammates in the Rutronik Racing team, Kelvin van der Linde and Patric Niederhauser, have demonstrated.

Customers
making
career

Audi R8 LMS on the racetrack
Milan Dontje
Dennis Marschall

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