Audi Sport has signed 16 GT talents from six nations. In the 2021 season, they are competing with pure customer teams in worldwide races and in strategic commitments of Audi Sport customer racing.
The Audi Sport customer racing squad ranges from young drivers to experienced professionals, some of whom have been associated with the brand for more than a decade and a half. They all represent Audi with sympathy, expertise and a sporting will to win. Nathanaël Berthon, Dennis Marschall, Nico Müller, Mike Rockenfeller and Charles Weerts will also be part of the team from the 2021 season.
Nathanaël Berthon will enter the race as an Audi Sport customer racing driver for the first time in 2021. However, the versatile Frenchman is familiar with the brand and its products. He contested the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup in the Audi R8 LMS as early as 2017. In an Audi A1 quattro, he won the French Tropée Andros ice racing series in the winter of 2016/17. In 2018, he piloted the Audi RS 3 LMS in the WTCR - FIA Touring Car World Cup for the first time. In 2020, he managed a victory there at the wheel of the German touring car and third place in the Trophy classification. In his career he has also driven various formula race cars up to Formula 1. Fourth place at Le Mans was his best result at the wheel of an LMP1 sports prototype.
Mattia Drudi is Audi Sport's second youngest driver: He has been part of the driver squad since 2019 and will be 23 in the summer of 2021. 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 Italian GT Championship, he impressed with many top results in the Audi Sport Italia team. During a DTM test at the end of 2018, he also showed his talent in the Audi RS 5 DTM at Jerez. Second places in the 2020 Spa 24 Hours and the 2019 Abu Dhabi 12 Hours underline his endurance qualities 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 33-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 contesting hereleventh season with Audi. More recently, she has focused on endurance racing, including the Nürburgring 24 Hours. In addition to her own racing commitments, she has been earning great recognition as a coach: 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. Two years later Audi Sport included him in its squad. 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.
Dennis Marschall established good contact with the brand early in his career via the Audi Sport TT Cup. With third place overall in the Audi Sport TT Cup in 2015 and the runner-up title a year later, the Karlsruhe native proved his talent. In 2017, the student made the step up to GT3 racing. Since then, he has been competing in the ADAC GT Masters. In the 2020 season, he proved his skills in this highly competitive GT3 racing series with two pole positions at the wheel of Rutronik Racing’s Audi R8 LMS. He also contested the 2020 Spa 24 Hours for Audi Sport customer racing. In 2021, Marschall will get his first chance in the brand’s squad.
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.
Nico Müller has distinguished himself as one of the fastest DTM drivers in recent years. The Swiss has been competing in the touring car series with Audi since 2014. In 2019 he clinched the runner-up title, in 2020 he was the leader of the standings for a long time and again finished second overall. As a test and development driver, he was significantly involved in optimizing the Audi RS 5 DTM. He has also shown his talent in other Audi race cars. In 2015, he celebrated overall victory in the Audi R8 LMS at the Nürburgring 24 Hours. In the FIA World Rallycross Championship (World RX) he has already driven the Audi S1 EKS RX quattro, and he is also familiar with the Audi e-tron from the Formula E electric racing series as a test driver.
Patric Niederhauser drove as an Audi Sport driver for the first time in 2020. 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. His greatest success came in 2019 with Kelvin van der Linde for HCB-Rutronik Racing: 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. After a good race in the Nürburgring 24 Hours, his car control in the closing stages of the 2020 Spa 24 Hours will also remain unforgotten: After a strong recovery in the most difficult weather, he was delighted with second place that he has clinched with his teammates.
Mike Rockenfeller has celebrated many great successes in his career, most of them with Audi. Victories in the 2008 European Le Mans Series, at the 2010 Le Mans 24 Hours and the 2013 DTM title under the sign of the four rings are the highlights. In addition, the father of two has already clinched overall victories at the 24-hour races at Daytona and the Nürburgring with other brands. Whether DTM touring cars, GT sports cars, LMP or DPI prototypes: the native Rhinelander is a versatile talent. Fans at the Nordschleife also know the Swiss-based professional from his regular appearances in the Audi R8 LMS at the Nürburgring 24 Hours.
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 fourth season as an Audi Sport pro in 2021. He 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 the Le Mans 24 Hours, he won the GTE-Am class in 2017 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. In 2020, he achieved his first championship title with Audi in the GT World Challenge Europe Sprint Cup.
Frédéric Vervisch experienced the most successful part of his GT racing career to date with Audi. 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. With second place in the 2020 Spa 24 Hours, he continued his good series in endurance races. The Belgian has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical-automotive engineering and speaks Dutch, English, German, French and Italian.
Charles Weerts is the first Audi Sport driver born in this millennium. The Belgian, born in 2001, joined the brand’s driver squad at the age of 19 and is therefore currently the youngest of the 16 members. After beginnings in karting and single seater racing, the junior got used to the Audi R8 LMS remarkably quickly. It was only in the winter of 2018/19 that his GT3 career began in the United Arab Emirates and two years later he ranks among the fastest in Europe after his title success in the GT World Challenge Europe Sprint Cup. He also gained racing experience worldwide with Audi as a teenager, for example in the FIA GT Nations Cup, the FIA GT World Cup in Macau or as the runner-up in the 2020 9 Hours of Kyalami.
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 the always obvious 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.