Audi Sport has signed 13 drivers from eight nations. In the 2019 season, they compete in worldwide races with pure customer teams, as well as in strategic commitments supported by Audi Sport customer racing.
From up-and-coming to seasoned Audi Sport drivers, from South Africa to the United Kingdom – twelve versatile male plus a fast female driver stand for diversity, success and popularity with customers and fans alike.
Mattia Drudi is the most recent new signing at Audi Sport, as well as the youngest one: He has been a member of Audi Sport customer racing’s driver squad since February 2019 and, just being 20 years old at the beginning of the season, is another three months younger than Audi Sport driver Dries Vanthoor, who was previously the youngest. Following initial successes in karting and in Formula 4, the Italian proved his prowess in race cars with roofs as well: In the Porsche Carrera Cup, he gathered his first laurels and in the Audi R8 LMS, racing as a guest in the 2018 Italian GT Championship with Audi Sport Italia, he clinched a victory and a third place. In a DTM test at Jerez in late 2018, he displayed his talent in the Audi RS 5 DTM as well.
Rahel Frey ranks among the best female drivers in GT racing, having celebrated six victories in Audi’s GT3 sports car to date, including two in the ADAC GT Masters and four in the Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup. The 32-year-old Swiss started racing for Audi in 2011, still in the DTM at that time. Since 2013, she has been competing in customer racing programs. In addition to her own racing commitments, she has been earning great recognition as a coach: Serving in that role in the Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup, which has exclusively been admitting amateur drivers since 2018, she sets reference times on the race tracks and provides individual advice to the drivers. Participants in the Audi driving experience value her expertise and pleasant demeanor as well.
Christopher Haase was one of the pioneers in the debut season of Audi’s customer racing program. In 2009, he clinched the FIA GT3 European Championship title with Christopher Mies. Since then, the track record of the race driver from Waging am See in Upper Bavaria has grown year after year: He won the Nürburgring 24 Hours twice with Audi, plus in 2017 scored his first victory in the Spa 24 Hours and in 2019 won the Dubai 24 Hours. In 2012, he decided the Blancpain Endurance Series, the most important European GT3 series, in his favor. In addition, his tally reflects runner-up finishes in the 2014 IMSA GTD class and in the 2017 and 2018 Intercontinental GT Challenge.
Pierre Kaffer grew up near the Nürburgring and raced under the banner of the four rings as far back as in 2004. At that time, he achieved overall victory with Allan McNish and Frank Biela in the Sebring 12 Hours in the Audi R8 LMP sports car. Subsequently he switched to the DTM where he drove the Audi A4 DTM. In the International GT Open, he won the title in 2010. Class victories in the Le Mans 24 Hours, at Sebring and in races of the American Le Mans Series, plus overall victory with Audi in the 2017 inaugural event of the California 8 Hours, complete his endurance racing track record. Since 2014, he has been contesting the 24-hour race at the Nürburgring in an Audi R8 LMS, won it for the first time in 2019 and is involved in various customer racing programs.
Niels Langeveld has been an Audi Sport driver since 2019. With successes scored in front-wheel drive race cars the 31-year-old Dutchman recommended himself for higher categories. Since 2010 he has won as many as four titles in touring car one-make cups. 2016 saw him competing in products of the Volkswagen Group for the first time. In 2017 and 2018, he delivered top-class performances at the wheel of the Audi RS 3 LMS in the ADAC TCR Germany. Last year, Langeveld with Team Racing One was even in contention for the title in the German TCR racing series and at the same time, while serving as the outfit’s team manager, gathered experience in other motorsport tasks as well. In 2019, Niels Langeveld competes in the WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup.
Kelvin van der Linde comes from a racing dynasty. His grandfather, Hennie, was five-time touring car champion in South Africa, and his father, Shaun, a successful touring car driver as well. His uncle, Etienne, pursued a career in single-seater racing and Kelvin’s younger brother, Sheldon, recorded initial successes in GT3 racing with Audi. In 2013, aged only 17, Kelvin van der Linde was the youngest winner of the Volkswagen Scirocco R-Cup title and a year later he won the ADAC GT Masters in an Audi R8 LMS. In 2017, at the mere age of 20, he celebrated his first victory in the 24-hour race at the Nürburgring with Audi. The South African, who lives in Kempten in the German Allgäu region, no doubt ranks among the greatest young talents in international GT racing.
Christopher Mies has built a remarkable career in GT racing with Audi. Aged only 21, he won the 2009 FIA GT3 European Championship in the maiden season of the Audi R8 LMS. Afterwards victories and titles clinched with his teammates followed in unusually short succession and frequency: In 2011 and 2012, he was the winner of the Bathurst 12 Hour and in 2012 became Blancpain Endurance Series Champion. 2015 saw him scoring his first win in the 24 Hours of Nürburgring and in the Australian GT Championship, followed in 2017 by his second Nürburgring victory. In 2016, Mies won the ADAC GT Masters, plus the VLN Speed Trophy, with his team. Various runner-up finishes and other good results complete his track record.
Gordon Shedden managed to make his move into international motorsport from his native Britain with Audi Sport. With three titles, 48 victories and a total of 122 podium finishes in the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) to his credit the Scotsman has set standards. He remained loyal to front-wheel drive in 2018 when he made his debut in the WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup for Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil Team and went on to celebrate a race win at Wuhan, China. This year he is driving the Audi RS 3 LMS in this series again. Shedden, who has a degree in business administration and is part of the management team of a Scottish race track, lived in Germany for three years in his youth.
Frank Stippler is linked to the history of Audi Sport customer racing like no other race driver. Following a career with Audi in the 2005 and 2006 DTM, he was involved in testing the Audi R8 LMS right from the beginning and has been fully integrated in the development work ever since. In addition to his skills as a driver, he contributes his knowledge as an engineer. His major successes include his victories in the 24-hour races at the Nürburgring and at Spa in 2012 and at the Nürburgring in 2019. The numerous customer teams for which the Audi Sport driver contests renowned racing series year after year value his advice, his experience and his goal-oriented work.
Dries Vanthoor now starts to his second season as a pro of Audi Sport. The young Belgian belongs to the next generation of promising talents. Like his brother Laurens, who previously celebrated many successes with Audi Sport, Dries began his career in karting, subsequently switched to single-seater racing and at the end of 2015 chose GT racing. Since 2016 he has been driving an Audi R8 LMS in the Blancpain GT Series. In 2017, he clinched his first VLN race win at the Nürburgring. In the Le Mans 24 Hours, he won the GTE-Am class and in the Zolder 24 Hours, he scored another class victory. In 2018, at the Bathurst 12 Hour, he won an Intercontinental GT Challenge race for the first time, and in 2019, he celebrated the win in the Nürburgring 24 Hours.
Jean-Karl Vernay is a familiar face in the Volkswagen Group and has been racing for Audi Sport in the WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup since 2018. Even previously, in Formula 3, the Frenchman relied on technology from Germany, having won two titles with German marques. In his remarkable career, the 31-year-old talent has secured championship wins in the French Formula Renault, the IndyLights, the LMP2 class of the Intercontinental Le Mans Challenge, the French Porsche Carrera Cup, the TCR International Series and, with Audi in 2018, the TCR Benelux. In the WTCR – FIA-World Touring Car Cup, he won four races in an Audi RS 3 LMS in 2018 and finished the season as the best Audi driver in the standings.
Frédéric Vervisch is the only Audi Sport driver to permanently compete in two different race cars. Since 2015 the former Formula 3 Cup winner has regularly been on the grid of national and international racing series in an Audi R8 LMS. His 2019 season began with a victory in the Dubai 24 Hours, six months later he also clinched a win in the Nürburgring 24 Hours. In addition to the Audi R8 LMS GT3, he drives the Audi RS 3 LMS. Following a season in the 2017 TCR International Series and the 2018 WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup, he is on the WTCR grid again with Comtoyou Team Audi Sport in 2019. The Belgian has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical-automotive engineering and speaks Dutch, English, German, French and Italian.
Markus Winkelhock is the only driver from a great family of racers, hailing from Waiblingen, Germany, who is still active. His father, Manfred, his uncles, Joachim and Thomas, and his cousin, Jens, were all active in motorsport. Markus himself made it all the way into Formula One, drove in the DTM for Audi among others, but celebrated many of his major successes with Audi Sport customer racing. Since 2012 he has won the Nürburgring 24 Hours three times, the Spa 24 Hours twice and the Intercontinental GT Challenge once – each time in an Audi R8 LMS. His congenial manner and spontaneous humor are very popular with colleagues, fans and the media alike. However, when it comes to his work in the cockpit he is a fully focused pro all the way.