Audi positions itself as the sportiest supplier in the premium segment and has a perfect basis for this: motorsport. Sportiness, advanced technology and emotional design are the foundations for the success of the Audi brand. The genes for this come from racing – since 1980.
The success story began with the Audi quattro
Leaving aside the era before the Second World War, including the legendary Auto Union Grand Prix racing cars in the 1930s, the motorsport history of AUDI AG began with the Audi quattro. The superior victories and two brand and two driver titles with the “Ur-quattro” in the World Rally Championship between 1982 and 1984 were a major factor in the market success of the quattro drive.
quattro also victorious on the circuit
After Audi had turned rallying upside down and stormed Pikes Peak (USA) with the Sport quattro three times in a row in record time, Audi made the quattro drive presentable on the circuit as well: initially with the Audi 200 quattro and the Audi 90 quattro IMSA-GTO in the USA, in 1990 and 1991 with two championship titles for the Audi V8 quattro in the German Touring Car Championship (DTM) – and finally also with the A4 in the near-production Super Touring Cars. In 1996 the Audi A4 quattro won championship titles in seven countries. Between 2012 and 2016 the four-wheel drive returned to the race track as the e-tron quattro.
Audi R8 most successful Le Mans sports car of modern times
After the banishment of the superior quattro drive from touring car racing, Audi switched to sports prototypes and for 18 years underpinned its slogan “Vorsprung durch Technik” in this motorsport category as well. At its début at Le Mans, the world’s toughest endurance race, Audi managed to jump onto the podium straight away in 1999 with third place. In the years that followed, the Audi R8 was in a class of its own. From 2000 to 2002 Audi achieved a historic hat-trick, thanks in part to TFSI technology, which was first used in 2001 and later found its way into series production. In 2004 and 2005, customer teams clinched two further overall victories for Audi at Le Mans. The R8 secured its place in motorsport history with a total of 63 wins in 80 sports car races.
The benchmark in the DTM with turbo power
After Laurent Aiello’s victory in 2002 with the Abt-Audi TT-R, Audi returned to the DTM as a factory in 2004 and won the title with Mattias Ekström straight away. The Swede triumphed again in 2007, and Timo Scheider in 2008 and 2009 – making Audi the first and so far only automobile manufacturer in DTM history to clinch a title hat-trick. Martin Tomczyk completed the Audi A4 DTM success story in the 2011 season with another title win – the fifth overall for the Audi A4 DTM. In 2013, Mike Rockenfeller clinched the ninth DTM title for Audi with the Audi RS 5 DTM. In his rookie year, René Rast achieved the sensation in 2017 with another title. In 2019, the DTM champion was also called René Rast: In the first year of the new Class 1 racing cars, the Audi RS 5 DTM with its newly developed two-liter four-cylinder turbo engine was the benchmark. With twelve wins, twelve pole positions, twelve fastest laps, 40 of 54 possible podium positions and all three championship titles, the brand achieved the most successful DTM season in the company’s history.
Pioneering achievements with TDI technology
Audi demonstrated a pioneering achievement and at the same time further proof of “Vorsprung durch Technik” with TDI technology: The newly designed Audi R10 TDI triumphed in 2006 as the first diesel-powered racing sports car at the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans. In total, TDI technology prevailed eight times at Le Mans. In 2007 and 2008 Audi again won at La Sarthe with the R10 TDI. In addition, Audi won the American Le Mans Series three times in a row with the diesel-powered race car and in 2008 also the European Le Mans Series. In 2010 Audi celebrated a one-two-three victory in the fastest Le Mans race of all time with the R15 TDI and thus set a new distance record that is still valid today. Audi TDI Power also prevailed at Le Mans in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014. In 2014, the brand celebrated its 13th victory in just 16 races. Audi also proves “Vorsprung durch Technik” in energy efficiency: In the entire TDI era Audi reduced diesel consumption by 46 percent within a decade.
First hybrid winner at Le Mans
With the first victory of a hybrid race car at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Audi achieved another pioneering achievement in the world’s most important endurance race in 2012. The Audi R18 e-tron quattro remained unbeaten at Le Mans three times in succession (2012, 2013 and 2014). Many other innovations such as the Audi laser light complement the technical pioneering achievements. Driver and brand titles with the hybrid sports car in the FIA World Endurance Championship WEC 2012 and 2013 complete the balance of Audi’s sports car era, which ended in 2016.
First German automobile manufacturer in Formula E
At the end of 2017, Audi was the first German car manufacturer to start in Formula E with a factory commitment. By winning the team classification and second place in the Drivers’ Championship, the brand made a dream start to the company’s all-electric motorsport era in the 2017/2018 season with the Audi e-tron FE04. With more than 40 podium positions and over 1,000 points, Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler is the most successful team in Formula E.
Audi Sport customer racing for the brand’s customers
With the R8 LMS, Audi Sport customer racing developed a racing car specifically for use in customer racing for the first time in 2009. The GT3 sports car, which consists of more than 50 percent production parts, was an instant hit. In March 2015 Audi Sport presented the second generation of the successful GT3 sports car, and a further evolution for the 2019 season. The GT3 sports cars with the four rings have won a total of 13 24-hour races and eight twelve-hour races and have clinched more than 60 driver championship titles worldwide. Since 2017, the Audi RS 3 LMS, designed for the TCR touring car category, has rounded off the range towards the entry level, followed a year later by the Audi R8 LMS GT4, an ideal racing car for entering GT sport. Since 2019, the fascinating Audi R8 LMS GT2, the most powerful customer sports car with 640 hp, has expanded the range to four models.