Audi positions itself as the sportiest manufacturer in the premium segment and has a perfect basis to do so: motorsport. Sportiness, advanced technology and emotional design are the main elements accounting for the success of the Audi brand. The genes for it have had their origins in racing – for 35 years.
The success story began with the Audi quattro
Disregarding the pre-World War II era including Auto Union’s legendary Grand Prix race cars in the 1930s, the motorsport history of AUDI AG began with the Audi quattro. The commanding victories, plus two manufacturers’ and two drivers’ titles achieved with the ‘original quattro’ in the World Rally Championship between 1982 and 1984, were a key factor in producing the success of quattro drive in the marketplace.
quattro victorious in circuit racing as well
After Audi had turned rallying upside down, storming up Pikes Peak (USA) with the Sport quattro in record time three times in succession, Audi established quattro drive in circuit racing as well: initially with the Audi 200 quattro and the Audi 90 quattro IMSA-GTO in the United States, in the German Touring Car Championship (DTM) in 1990 and 1991 – and ultimately with the A4 in production-based super touring car racing. 1996 saw the Audi A4 quattro clinch championship titles in seven countries. In 2012, the all-wheel drive system returned to the race track as the e-tron quattro.
Audi R8 most successful present-day Le Mans sports car
After the dominant quattro drive was banned from touring car racing, Audi switched to sports prototypes and has been underpinning the company’s slogan ‘Vorsprung durch Technik’ in this motorsport category as well ever since. In its 1999 debut at Le Mans, the world’s toughest endurance race, Audi, on clinching third place, instantly managed the leap onto the winners’ podium. In the following years, the Audi R8 was in a class of its own. From 2000 to 2002, Audi achieved a historic hat-trick, not least thanks to debuting TFSI technology that subsequently made its way into production technology. 2004 and 2005 saw customer teams score two further overall victories for Audi. The R8 secured its place in motorsport history with a total of 63 victories in 80 sports car races.
Title wins following return to DTM
Following Laurent Aiello’s 2002 victory in the Abt-Audi TT-R, Audi returned to the DTM with a factory commitment in 2004 and, with Mattias Ekström, instantly clinched the title. The Swede triumphed again in 2007, while in 2008 and 2009, Timo Scheider won, making Audi the first – and so far only – automobile manufacturer in DTM history to have achieved a title hat-trick. Martin Tomczyk completed the success story of the Audi A4 DTM in the 2011 season with another title win – the fifth one in total for the Audi A4 DTM. In 2013, Mike Rockenfeller in the Audi RS 5 DTM claimed the ninth DTM title in total for Audi.
Pioneering achievements with TDI technology
With TDI technology, Audi demonstrated a pioneering achievement, again proving ‘Vorsprung durch Technik’ in the process. In 2006, the Audi R10 TDI featuring a new concept was the first-ever car with diesel power to triumph in the legendary Le Mans 24 Hours. 2007 and 2008 again saw Audi win at Le Mans with the R10 TDI. In addition, Audi won the American Le Mans Series three times in succession with the diesel-powered sports car, plus, in 2008, the Le Mans Series in Europe. With the R15 TDI, Audi celebrated a one-two-three result in the fastest Le Mans race of all time in 2010, as well as setting a new distance record that has not been broken to date. In 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014, Audi TDI Power again won at Le Mans, plus in 2014, the brand celebrated its 13th victory in only 16 races it had participated in. Audi has been demonstrating ‘Vorsprung durch Technik’ in terms of energy efficiency as well, having reduced diesel consumption by 40 percent ever since the TDI era began in racing in 2006.
First hybrid winner at Le Mans
On clinching the first victory of a hybrid race car in the Le Mans 24 Hours in 2012, Audi achieved another pioneering feat in the world’s most important endurance race. Three times in succession (2012, 2013 and 2014), the Audi R18 e-tron quattro remained unbeaten at Le Mans. Numerous other innovations such as Audi laser light complement the brand’s pioneering prowess in technology. In addition, Audi won the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) with the hybrid sports car two consecutive times, in 2012 and 2013.
GT racing as third pillar
In the R8 LMS, Audi, in 2009, developed a race car specifically for use in customer racing for the first time. The GT3 sports car, more than 50 percent of which consists of production components, instantly impressed. More than 130 race cars were delivered to customers by the beginning of 2015. In addition to 28 championship titles around the world, the track record of the R8 LMS reflects eight overall victories in iconic 24-hour races such as those at the Nürburgring and at Spa-Francorchamps, plus three successes in 12-hour races. In March 2015, Audi presented the second generation of the successful GT3 sports car that, only two months later, won the 24-hour race at the Nürburgring.