40 years of Audi Sport GmbH celebrated at the Nürburgring
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40 years of Audi Sport GmbH celebrated at the Nürburgring
40 years of Audi Sport GmbH celebrated at the Nürburgring
Audi subsidiary celebrates 40 years of Audi Sport GmbH this year
Oliver Hoffmann: “We have a clear goal: to successfully carry the sporting DNA of the 4 rings into our electric future”
Rolf Michl: “The Nürburgring is a magical place for us”
Sebastian Grams: “We want to shape the future of mobility in the high-performance segment in a sustainable and progressive way”
Almost 40 years ago – on October 10, 1983 – Audi Sport GmbH, as it is known today, was founded under the name quattro GmbH. Even today, it shapes the sporty and exclusive image of the brand with the four rings. At Audi, vehicles with the “Red rhombus” are synonymous with performance and sportiness. The celebrations will begin at the 24 Hours of Nürburgring next weekend (May 18-21).
40 years, more than 250,000 vehicles produced in the last ten years alone and more than 400 motorsport titles won meet 20,832 kilometers, 73 bends and height differences of more than 300 meters – key figures that represent Audi Sport GmbH but also the legendary Nordschleife – also known as “Green Hell”, the green hell – of the Nürburgring. This has shaped Audi Sport GmbH like no other racing circuit. The Eifel region circuit and the wholly owned subsidiary of AUDI AG enjoy a close relationship, both in racing and for production high-performance vehicles. Audi Sport has been an official partner of the 24-hour race since 2002 and supplies the “official vehicles” to the race organizers. Since 2009, the Audi R8 LMS has participated in the Eifel Marathon, one of the annual highlights of Audi Sport customer races. The customer racing division has been part of the former quattro GmbH since 2011. With six overall victories and three additional victories in the GT3 category to date, Audi is the most successful manufacturer of the GT3 era in the classic d endurance to “Green Hell”. It is therefore no surprise that Audi Sport GmbH is launching its activities to mark its anniversary at the Nürburgring: during the 2023 edition of the 24-hour race, the four Audi R8 LMS of the Audi Sport teams will compete in flocked designs retro to mark the 40th anniversary of Audi Sport GmbH, with famous liveries from Audi’s motorsport history. In keeping with the spirit of this anniversary, former DTM champions Mike Rockenfeller, Timo Scheider and Martin Tomczyk will participate with the number 40 as the starting number. Their Audi R8 LMS from Audi Sport Team Scherer PHX is visually based on the 1992 Audi V8 quattro DTM.
Due to its demanding track characteristics, the Nordschleife is not only a motorsport challenge, but also a benchmark for production vehicles from Audi Sport GmbH. Each new R and RS model covers several thousand kilometers on this varied Eifel circuit during its development phase. “The Nürburgring is the most difficult circuit in the world. It’s a magical place for us and that’s why it’s perfectly suited to kick off our 40th anniversary celebrations with the 24-hour race,” said Rolf Michl, Managing Director of Audi Sport GmbH and Head of Sport. automobile at Audi. “The Nürburgring-Nordschleife is considered a magical circuit for all motorsport fans. For me, the 24 Hours is one of the most beautiful races you can experience in motorsport, but the Nürburgring is also essential for the development of our production cars. All our models are tested there in extreme conditions and subsequently put into production. »
Exciting activities to celebrate this anniversary
Audi is planning several activities for the 24-hour race weekend on the Eifel circuit. On Friday May 19, Mike Rockenfeller, Timo Scheider and Martin Tomczyk, as well as Audi Sport Managing Directors Sebastian Grams and Rolf Michl, will be on hand to answer questions during the “Champions’ talk”. Different models from the company’s history will be exhibited in the ring°boulevard. These include the first generation Audi R8 and RS 4 Avant, the current R8 GT and the Audi RS 4 Avant equipped with the competition package. Another exclusivity with the presence of the Audi S1 Hoonitron, with which the unforgettable Ken Block caused a sensation in the streets of Las Vegas in the “Electrikhana” video. And shortly before the 24-hour race, spectators will be able to admire the high-performance models of the Audi sports subsidiary during a parade along the famous track.
Fans can also expect celebrations at the headquarters of Audi Sport GmbH in Neckarsulm. The anniversary exhibition “40 years of Audi Sport GmbH – Fascination meets performance” will provide an almost complete overview of the history of Audi Sport GmbH from June 14: in addition to automotive highlights – from first vehicle from the former quattro GmbH to the various models from the current customer racing program and product portfolio – there will also be interesting exhibitions from the Audi collection and vehicle customization to be seen at the Audi Forum Neckarsulm. The exhibition takes place in conjunction with the special exhibition “150 Years of NSU: Innovation, Dare, Transform” on the history of the traditional NSU brand.
Finally, another highlight is coming in the fall: to mark the anniversary of Audi Sport GmbH, a gathering for fans of the red diamond is planned for Saturday, October 14, in the direction of the Audi Forum Neckarsulm. Audi Sport GmbH invites visitors to a special day there. Informative guided tours through the special exhibition, which will be complemented exclusively on this day by other exhibitions not usually open to the public, will allow visitors to take an exciting journey through the 40-year history of the ‘business.
Well positioned for the future
“Audi Sport GmbH has written a real success story over the past four decades. With passion and team spirit, many exciting high-performance projects were developed to prepare for production, emotional customer experiences were created and great successes in motorsport were achieved,” says Oliver Hoffmann, Member of the Board of Directors. Administration for Technical Development of AUDI AG and Chairman of the Advisory Board of Audi Sport GmbH. “We have a clear objective: to successfully carry the sporting DNA of the four rings into the electric future. » Managing Director Sebastian Grams adds: “The company has remained true to itself over all these years, has always been courageous and dared to do new things. This spirit of innovation still characterizes us today. We want to shape the future of mobility in the high-performance segment in a sustainable and progressive way. »
Audi Sport GmbH is currently involved in four business areas: in addition to the development and production of high-performance models, it is responsible for factory and customer motorsport for the brand with the four rings. In addition, vehicle personalization through the Audi exclusive program and the sale of high-quality lifestyle collections are among its core areas. Audi Sport GmbH currently employs around 1,500 people. In 2022, the wholly owned subsidiary of AUDI AG once again set a sales record with exactly 45,515 cars. With 16 models, the vehicle portfolio is larger than ever, ranging from the compact Audi RS 3 Sportback and the high-performance SUV Audi RS Q8 to the super sports car Audi R8 Coupé and the premium electric model, the Audi RS e-tron GT. With the fully electric four-door coupe, the sports subsidiary Audi is demonstrating a pioneering spirit in the field of electric mobility. Last year, 10,042 vehicles, or around a quarter of the vehicles delivered by Audi Sport GmbH, were already models from the e-tron GT family, of which around one in three was an RS model.
“We want to offer the best adapted offer in the segment to our customers. This ranges from large-scale electrification via mild hybridization to the flexibility of future performance plug-in hybrids and the specific driving experience of electric cars,” explains Sebastian Grams to present the company’s strategy. “With the Audi RS e-tron GT we have started the era of highly emotional and electric vehicles – with the new fully electric Audi Sport models on the PPE platform – as the first high-performance electric SUV, we will continue this chapter. By the end of the decade, the portfolio is to be converted 100% to battery electric (BEV) and partially electric (PHEV) models. At the same time, we want to use our expertise even more in small series for highly emotional vehicles in the future. »
Audi Sport GmbH is also a key driver of electrification for Audi in motorsport. Under his leadership, the innovative Audi RS Q e-tron prototype was created in 2021 for its first participation in the legendary Dakar Rally. The vehicle’s drivetrain concept combines an electric powertrain with a high-voltage battery and a highly efficient energy converter that charges the high-voltage battery while driving. The energy converter consists of a TFSI engine from the DTM coupled to a Formula E transmission unit as a generator.
From 2026, all four rings will compete in the FIA Formula 1 World Championship. The new regulations are based on greater electrification, and the electric transmission unit (MGU-K) will then have almost as much power as the combustion engine. The highly efficient 1.6-liter turbocharged engines will be powered by sustainable synthetic fuel. An independent company, Audi Formula Racing GmbH, was created to enter the premier class of motorsport.
When Audi Sport GmbH was founded as quattro GmbH in 1983 with only a few employees, almost no one expected that it would become a manufacturer of high-quality, high-performance vehicles with a motorsport program. extremely successful over the next four decades. At the beginning, the company’s main concern was to ensure the protection of the “quattro” name and marketing rights. But since then, the company has continued to grow and open up new opportunities. In 1984, for example, it began selling accessories. Since that day, items from the Audi collection have made fans’ hearts beat faster. Whether clothing, luggage or model cars, the lifestyle collection allows for a complete brand experience. Eleven years later, another important pillar was added: since 1995, Audi Sport customers, who like the unusual, have been able to have their vehicles personalized. The options and equipment programs offered by Audi exclusive are considerable and have always been a guarantee for technical and visual highlights. Probably one of the most unusual vehicles was the Audi “Picasso” convertible with its leather interior designed by the world-famous artist.
A year later, another milestone in the company’s history followed: quattro GmbH became a registered automobile manufacturer and presented the Audi S6 plus, the first separate model, at the Motor Show in Geneva. 2007 saw the debut of the first four-ringed sports car: the Audi R8, now in its second generation. The GT3 version of the mid-engined sports car was also the starting point for the customer racing program, which has since been expanded with the RS 3 LMS, R8 LMS GT4 and R8 LMS GT2 models. To date, vehicles built for Audi Sport racing customers have won more than 400 titles and countless victories around the world. In 2014, the Audi R8 received a very special production line at the Böllinger Höfe plant, which is characterized by the combination of a manufacturing plant and an intelligent factory. In addition to the mid-engine sports car, the electrified top models, the Audi e-tron GT quattro and the Audi RS e-tron GT, are also built here on a unique joint production line within the Band. In 2016, quattro GmbH was renamed Audi Sport GmbH. The name Audi Sport is based on the long and successful tradition of the four rings in motorsport.
“Audi Sport GmbH can look back on 40 exciting and very successful years. This was and is only possible thanks to a strong team effort,” explains Rolf Michl. “For us, one thing is certain: breaking new ground and continually developing – this will continue to characterize Audi Sport GmbH. »