Audi Sport has signed twelve GT drivers from five nations. In the 2020 season, they are competing with pure customer teams in worldwide races and in strategic commitments of Audi Sport customer racing.
Audi Sport customer racing’s driver lineup covers the gamut from up-and-coming drivers to experienced pros, some of whom have been associated with the brand for more than a decade and a half. They all represent Audi with congeniality, skills and the will to win.
Mirko Bortolotti is racing under the banner of the four rings for the first time in 2020. At age 29, the Italian who hails from Trento already looks back on a remarkable career path. A championship title in the Italian Formula 3 was followed by wins of Formula 2, the Eurocup Mégane Trophy, plus the Blancpain GT Series and Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup titles. In the ADAC GT Masters, the professional driver who lives in Vienna was on the grid for the first time in 2012. Since 2014, the former Formula One test driver has been fully focused on GT3 racing. He grew up in Austria and speaks three languages: German, English and Italian.
Mattia Drudi is the youngest Audi Sport driver: He has been part of the driver squad since 2019 and at age 21 is three months younger than Dries Vanthoor, who was previously Audi Sport’s youngest driver. 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, racing as a guest in the 2018 Italian GT Championship with Audi Sport Italia, 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. In 2019, he instantly achieved third position in the drivers’ classification of the Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe Silver Cup and finished the Abu Dhabi 12 Hours runner-up.
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, now starting to her tenth season with Audi. In addition to her own racing commitments, she has been earning great recognition as a coach: As a mentor in the Audi Sport Seyffarth R8 LMS Cup, 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.
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. A year later, he won the ADAC GT Masters in an Audi R8 LMS for the first time and did so again in 2019. 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, 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.
Patric Niederhauser is driving for Audi Sport customer racing for the first time in 2020, but is already intimately familiar with the Audi R8 LMS. Following a career in karting, single-seater racing and stints in LMP2 race cars, the Swiss switched to GT racing in 2015. He has been racing in the ADAC GT Masters in an Audi R8 LMS since 2017. He celebrated his biggest success in 2019 with Kelvin van der Linde. During the HCB-Rutronik Racing team’s maiden season in the ADAC GT Masters, Niederhauser won three races together with the South African Audi Sport driver and in doing so secured the drivers’ title before the end of the season.
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 is entering his third season as an Audi Sport pro in 2020. 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 and the Suzuka 10 Hours.
Frédéric Vervisch experienced his so far most successful season in GT racing with Audi in 2019. After the former Formula 3 Cup winner had regularly been on the grid of national and international racing series in an Audi R8 LMS since 2015, he achieved his breakthrough as an Audi Sport driver. His 2019 season began with a victory in the Dubai 24 Hours. Six months later, he won the Nürburgring 24 Hours and in August, the Suzuka 10 Hours. 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.