“We intend to be in contention to win.” This is the motto Audi Head of Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich has been issuing as the primary goal for the season year after year ever since assuming his position in November 1993. And in the 2015 season, the Audi R18 e-tron quattro, the Audi RS 5 DTM and the Audi R8 LMS were definitely in contention to win.
Audi RS 5 DTM with ten victories was most successful DTM car
In the DTM, the Audi RS 5 DTM was the car to beat in the 2015 season. In total, Audi won ten of the 18 races and six of the eight Audi drivers mounted the top of the podium at least once. Following four victories in the first four races, Audi was clearly the favorite. Still, at the end of the season, the tally reflected only positions two to four in the drivers’ championship for Jamie Green, Mattias Ekström and Edoardo Mortara and the ‘vice championship’ for Audi in the manufacturers’ classification.
“I don’t think anyone would disagree that we had the best car this year and that our engineers and technicians did a first-class job last winter,” says Dieter Gass, Head of DTM at Audi Sport. “That’s why it’s all the more disappointing that in the end all three championship titles slipped from our grasp. There were too many times we didn’t score. Jamie (Green) remained without points in every other race. Still, in the end, he came up short of winning the title by only 19 points. Due to our early success, we soon had the maximum performance weights in our cars, which made them the heaviest ones in the field on average across the season, and that didn’t help matters either.”
Two victories, plus podiums in all eight WEC races
In the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC), Audi Sport’s attention was primarily focused on the Le Mans 24 Hours where the Audi R18 e-tron quattro, which for 2015 had been subjected to intensive further development particularly in the area of aerodynamics, was able to fully display its strengths. Until the early morning hours, Audi fought a thrilling duel for victory with its ‘corporate sister’ Porsche before minor details caused the pendulum to swing in favor of the Swabian brand. The 17th podium result in succession was a crumb of comfort.
In the WEC, Audi managed to keep the title race in the drivers’ championship open up to the finale in Bahrain. Marcel Fässler, André Lotterer and Benoît Tréluyer celebrated two victories and were on the winners’ podium in all eight races. In the end, they came up short of winning the title by only five points. “We put Porsche under pressure up to the checkered flag,” says Chris Reinke, Head of LMP at Audi Sport. “That was a major feat performed by the whole squad which, unfortunately, went unrewarded with a title. In our long-term development, we continue to pursue the aim of making the hybrid system increasingly powerful. We’ve been intensively working on this for 2016.”
New Audi R8 LMS instantly wins at the Nürburgring
Arguably, the season’s major triumph was achieved by Audi Sport customer racing. In the 24-hour race at the Nürburgring, Audi Sport Team WRT instantly claimed victory with the new Audi R8 LMS. In the Spa-Francorchamps 24 Hours and the inaugural FIA GT World Cup in Macau, Audi’s newly developed GT3 race car left a strong impression as well. As a result, customer demand for the new Audi R8 LMS is so high that Audi Sport customer racing is attempting to produce more than the originally scheduled 45 cars for the 2016 season.
For most of the Audi customer teams, 2015 was a year of transition with the first-generation Audi R8 LMS that, even seven years following its launch, continued to clinch victories and championship titles. The most important title was contributed to the tally by the Belgian Audi Club Team WRT that won the drivers’ championship in the Blancpain GT Series with the Dutchman Robin Frijns. In Australia, Christopher Mies in the Audi R8 LMS of Team Jamec PEM Racing was victorious. Victory in the Audi R8 LMS Cup in Asia was claimed for the second time in succession by the former Formula One driver Alex Yoong.
“Obviously, the Nürburgring victory was the highlight of our customer sport season,” says Romolo Liebchen, Head of Audi Sport customer racing. “It’s a particularly noteworthy success as it was achieved in one of the first racing commitments of the new Audi R8 LMS and the car had only been unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show shortly before the event at the Nürburgring. That the new production R8 and the race car were presented at the same time shows the important role motorsport plays at Audi.”
Successful premiere of the Audi Sport TT Cup
The inaugural season of the new Audi Sport TT Cup, which thrilled spectators as part of the supporting program at six DTM events and affords young up-and-coming drivers an opportunity to enter Audi’s successful motorsport world, was a success. 165 applications from 30 nations were received by quattro GmbH for the 18 entries available in the inaugural year. The spectacular races and thrilling duels showed that Audi was fortunate in its selection of the junior talents. The first title winner in the Audi Sport TT Cup was the 21-year-old Pole Jan Kisiel, who secured a parts package for the new Audi R8 LMS worth 150,000 euros as a prize.
“Although the Audi Sport TT Cup was created in a very short period of time it has become a ‘fixture’ in the DTM’s supporting program,” says Project Leader Rolf Michl. “We achieved our aims for the first season: we saw many thrilling races, promising young talents, tremendous guest drivers, and did a good job of promoting the new Audi TT.”