In 2017, Audi Sport is active in DTM, Formula E and World RX. How would you rate the signficance of the rallycross program at Audi?
Rallycross with a factory-supported involvement is a completely new project for us. Even though it’s an FIA world championship it’s our smallest program. Even so, it is a very important one.
Why did Audi choose to provide factory support to EKS?
We’ve been watching the EKS project with interest from the very beginning. After three years, it was time for us to decide whether or not to provide technical support to Mattias Ekström against increasingly strong competition. The drivers’ and teams’ world championship wins gave us additional motivation to get involved. Another important factor for us is that the fielding of electric vehicles might be possible from a mid-term perspective in rallycross. Electrification is a focus topic for us.
Audi has always consistently used motorsport to test and further develop new technologies for subsequent use in production vehicles. Is this the case in rallycross as well?
This may be the case when electrification is introduced in rallycross. Whether that’s actually going to happen, and when, is not clear at the moment. I don’t think that it will become reality before 2019. But if it happens in a format that’s attractive for Audi, we’re going to look into it.
How do you assess the development of rallycross in general?
The popularity of rallycross has incredibly increased in recent years. You can also tell that this is the case by the fact that we’re not the only manufacturer with a factory-backed involvement. The events are spectacular, spectator-friendly and put the crowd in close touch with motorsport.
What can the DTM and other series learn from rallycross?
The things I particularly like about rallycross is its openness and atmosphere. It’s a format that packs the whole weekend with action. This is what we’re currently working on in the DTM and we’re heading in the right direction.
With quattro permanent all-wheel drive Audi set a milestone in automotive history in 1980. Since then, more than eight million cars with quattro drive have rolled off the assembly line. How can this success story, also through the rallycross commitment, continue to be written?
With quattro in rallycross we’re continuing the original idea of all-wheel-drive. Without all-wheel drive there’s no point in competing in rallycross, so quattro is optimal. In terms of format, a rallycross event is a lot more interesting to the visitors than a rally where you can watch a car drive past a particular place on the route only once. Rallycross delivers a much greater spectacle. The races are short and dynamic and the spectators see immediately who won.
What role does Audi Sport play in the further development of the Rallycross- S1?
We’re handling the development work especially in the concept stage. In the tests and races, EKS receives support from us as well, but the team will continue to independently run its racing commitments.
In addition to Audi, other manufacturers such as Ford, Peugeot and Volkswagen have factory commitments in the World RX. In the light of this, are you expecting costs to successively increase in the way this can be observed in other series?
This is a critical issue that needs to be closely watched. At the moment, the World RX, compared with other series, is still very cost-efficient. However, if this should change, then the World RX will not exist for a long time in the current form. Initially, a certain cost increase is inevitable because professionalism is enhanced as a result of manufacturers entering the series. But later it’ll be important to keep costs under control.