Neuburg an der Donau
Oh Happy Day
Although the preparations for the 2019 season are in full swing and with the E-Prix in Morocco and the 24-hour race in Dubai the first races of the year are already coming up again, Head of Audi Motorsport Dieter Gass and Chris Reinke, Head of Audi Sport customer racing, are enjoying the holidays with their families as well. Before they started their Christmas break, we asked the two directors of Audi’s racing commitments to briefly stop and share their top 5 moments of the 2018 season with us.
When Gass and Reinke meet in the lobby of Audi’s motorsport department in Neuburg in front of Audi Sport’s impressive trophy collection, watching video highlights of the 2018 season on a tablet, they become aware once more of what an intensive year is behind them.
“In the factory programme, it was an extremely exciting season with a few difficulties at the start which all of us, however, were able to finish on a positive note,” says Gass. “In our first season as a factory team, we won the Formula E teams’ championship and in the DTM we ultimately took six races in succession – nobody would have expected that in the beginning of the year. Last but not least, we finished second and third in the World Rallycross Championship.”
Audi Sport customer racing celebrated its tenth anniversary with the most successful season to date. 256 individual race victories, 21 driver titles and 38 class titles were reported by the customer racing department. “From the delivery of the first Audi R8 LMS GT4 cars to the decision at short notice to support customer teams in the WTCR to the world premiere of our new Audi R8 LMS GT3 (2019) in Paris, our year was extremely intensive and successful as well,” says Reinke.
DIETER GASS’ TOP FIVE
CHRIS REINKE’S TOP FIVE
R8 LMS GT4
For Audi Sport customer racing, the anniversary year of 2018 begins with the delivery of the new Audi R8 LMS GT4. “Acceptance in the marketplace was incredibly high straight from the start,” says Reinke. “And the first customers shipped their vehicles directly to Dubai and instantly clinched a one-two result in their first event. Actually, a year cannot start much better than that.”
At the beginning of February, Audi Sport customer racing at the opening event of the Intercontinental GT Challenge (IGTC) achieves the third overall victory in the 12-hour race at Bathurst, Australia. “Leaving the race as the winner in the first strategic GT3 entry of the year was fantastic,” says Reinke.
Audi Sport’s tally in the FIA WTCR’s inaugural season is remarkable: at ten events, the Audi RS 3 LMS clinches 17 podium finishes, including six victories. Every one of the three Audi Sport drivers wins at least once. Reinke: “The decision to support customer teams in the WTCR was taken at very short notice. Even so, we made a good start to the season and managed to keep the title race open up until the finale in Macau.”
R8 LMS GT3 (2019)
At the Paris Motor Show, Audi Sport customer racing unveils the evolution of the Audi R8 LMS GT3 model in front of a large audience at the beginning of October. “The car is a huge success with our customers,” says Reinke. “This makes us particularly happy and gives rise to hope for next year.” The customers have the opportunity to retrofit existing cars or to buy new ones.
On clinching a one-two result in the finale of the Intercontinental GT Challenge (IGTC) at Laguna Seca, Audi Sport customer racing converts a nine-point deficit in the manufacturers’ championship into an eleven-point advantage. “That we managed to win the most important manufacturers’ title in the GT3 category against fourteen GT3 competitors for the third time in a row was clearly a highlight,” says Reinke.
HAPPY NEW YEAR
In spite of the holiday mood, the thoughts of the two directors of Audi’s racing commitments have long begun focussing on the 2019 season: “We wish all of our employees, partners, friends and fans of Audi Sport all the best for the new year and look forward to many more exciting races.”
Factory-backed racing rests on the two pillars of Formula E in the area of electric mobility and the new turbo era of the DTM in the area of internal combustion engines. Audi Sport customer racing with the Audi R8 LMS GT3 (2019), the Audi R8 LMS GT4 and the Audi RS 3 LMS is continuing all three successful customer racing projects.
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