Rast in front of “Rocky”: Audi with one-two win in Moscow

René Rast continues to cause a sensation in his first DTM season. In spite of never having been to Russia before and knowing Moscow Raceway near Moscow only from the simulator, the driver from Audi Sport Team Rosberg secured pole position on Saturday and went on to clinch one of the rare lights-to-flag victories in the DTM. With that, the German, after nine of 18 races, is leading the standings by a narrow margin, trailed by Lucas Auer (Mercedes-Benz) and Mattias Ekström (Audi).

“It was an awesome race,” said Rast, following his second DTM victory. “The car was mega, the pit stop superb – a big thank you to the team! Being in the top spot of the championship again is a tremendous feeling.”

No less impressive was the second place clinched by Mike Rockenfeller who, following his accident at the Norisring in which he was not at fault, raced with a broken left foot, having to use his right one for braking at Moscow Raceway. “This isn’t so easy in the DTM,” said the campaigner from Audi Sport Team Phoenix who had started the race from position two on the grid and went on to follow René Rast on 38 laps like a shadow. In the early stage, “Rocky” countered an attack by BMW driver Augusto Farfus and on clinching second place maintained his chances of winning the title. “For my mechanics and me, today is a great day. They worked so hard to put the car together again after the Norisring and I think that there weren’t a lot of people expecting us to manage this here. That makes me all the prouder of my team.”

Head of Audi Motorsport Dieter Gass could only agree with that. “A superb one-two victory for Audi! René (Rast) showed a fantastic performance from A to Z: pole position and a lights-to-flag win. And that Mike (Rockenfeller) with a broken foot finished in position two battling against the best drivers in the world’s best touring car series is really impressive.”

For the other Audi drivers, Saturday did not go so well. Mattias Ekström (Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline), who had started as the leader of the standings, dropped far behind as early as on the starting lap after being bumped by BMW driver Timo Glock and subsequently lost additional positions in a duel with Lucas Auer. The Swede still managed to advance to position eight and on the finish line even came close to intercepting Gary Paffett (Mercedes-Benz) in another photo finish.

Jamie Green, as well, was hit hard by a rival on the starting lap and drove his damaged Audi RS 5 DTM home in position nine. Nico Müller crossed the finish line in tenth place, but due to a jump start, retroactively received a five-second penalty. Loïc Duval, on taking position ten, showed a good qualifying performance but, having received a third warning in total this season, was handed a grid penalty putting him on position 15. In spite of this, the Frenchman just barely missed out on scoring his first point in the DTM.

After the first half of the season, Audi, with a 69-point advantage over Mercedes-Benz, is leading the manufacturer’s standings, Audi Sport Team Rosberg has maintained position one in the teams’ standings. Race two at Moscow Raceway on Sunday starting at 1:45 PM CEST marks the beginning of the second half of an exceedingly thrilling DTM season.  

Innovation fireworks during the Audi IT Hackathon

In keeping with the principle of “starting from scratch,” 20 teams worked within a 48-hour period to create completely new use cases for the digital future of Audi. These included a prototype for a special application that can detect the model and equipment version using a simple photo. Self-learning algorithms were also a focus in a software solution that not only uses a customer’s portrait to estimate their age and gender but also offers a recommended Audi model. Easing the way into the digital future is a hand-held object with which the digital functions in a car, such as music, can be activated by simply putting it on.

Mattias Ulbrich, Chief Information Officer at Audi, explain the background for the event: “We have outstanding talent here at Audi, with an incredible number of creative ideas. With the Audi IT Hackathon, we wanted to give them the opportunity to develop and implement these ideas in an inspiring atmosphere and in interdisciplinary teams.”

This year marked the third round of the Hackathon, firmly establishing it as an internal innovation forum. The number of participants has grown steadily. For this reason, the event was held for the first time in the spacious surroundings of the Kulturzentrum neun in Ingolstadt. Employees from Audi hotbeds of innovation like Audi Electronics Venture (AEV) and Audi Business Innovation (ABI) were present, as were employees from the new subsidiary Autonomous Intelligent Driving (AID). On Friday a jury of Audi experts evaluated the results according to criteria such as degree of innovation and technical feasibility. The evaluation also incorporated the opinions of the participants.

“We continue driving progress on the projects after the Hackathon as well. For this, we are supporting the three winning teams with start-up capital as well as internal professionals who are helping with implementation,” said Gunnar Lange, Head of Audi IT Predevelopment and Innovation Management.

The first two Hackathons produced a machine learning chatbot for smart car booking, for instance. In the future, Audi will be able to use this self-learning software for its exclusive Audi at home mobility service. In another project, Audi employees developed a prototype that uses artificial intelligence to automatically detect damage to wheel rims on cars. Also among the top finishers was a program that connects the Amazon voice-controlled assistant Alexa with Audi connect. 

For the future of the diesel engine: Audi starts free retrofit program for up to 850,000 cars

Audi aims to maintain the future viability of diesel engines for its customers and to make a contribution towards improving air quality. At the same time, Audi is convinced that this program will counteract possible bans on vehicles with diesel engines. With their low fuel consumption, diesel engines help to achieve the ambitious CO2 targets in Europe, which is another reason why Audi has decided to offer this retrofit program.

For several months, Audi has been intensively examining all diesel concepts for any irregularities. All indications have been investigated and since 2016, all engine and transmission combinations have been systematically reviewed. In doing so, Audi has cooperated closely with the authorities and reported to them, in particular the Federal Ministry of Transport and the Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA). The overall package consists of voluntary measures, including some that have already been communicated to the authorities and which were considered in their decisions. Audi is aware that the investigations by the KBA have not yet been concluded. If those investigations result in further consequences, Audi will of course quickly implement the required technical solutions in the interest of its customers as part of this EU5/EU6 retrofit program.

*) outside the United States and Canada 

A look into the future: Audi customers experience piloted driving on the A9 autobahn

The customer trips in the Audi A7 piloted driving concept, nicknamed “Jack,” start in the myAudi Sphere at Munich airport. The route goes via the A9 – part of the “Digital Motorway Test Bed. With a normal traffic flow, the piloted journey takes around 60 minutes. An Audi expert is always on board. After the journey participants are asked for their opinion, with their impressions incorporated into the development of future automated driving functions.

The opportunity to ride in “Jack” will start on July 20 and run through to August. Potential test drivers are targeted via various communications channels, including the social media sites run by Audi Germany. At the same time, Audi Business Innovation GmbH has raffled places to users of its premium mobility service Audi on demand. Participants in the “Miles and More” program can also swap accumulated miles for a trip in “Jack.”

Audi has already used the A7 piloted driving concept test vehicle on three continents since 2015. On the A9 it can drive at speeds up to 130 km/h (80.8 mph). It accelerates, brakes and changes lane predictively and smoothly while cooperating with other road users.

The experience from the test drives with “Jack” has been incorporated into the development of piloted driving. The highlight here is the central driver assistance controller (zFAS) which uses signals from all the sensors to continuously generates a detailed image of the surroundings. The zFAS – the size of a laptop – is fitted for the first time as standard in the new Audi A8. The luxury sedan was premiered last week at the Audi Summit in Barcelona and has been developed for highly automated driving as per SAE Level 3. The Audi AI traffic jam pilot will allow the driver to hand over the driving task to the car on freeways in slow moving traffic at speeds up to 60 km/h (37.3 mph)

Audi Sport customer racing presents the 100th Audi RS 3 LMS

Audi RS 3 LMS (TCR)

Audi Sport customer racing celebrates production centenary of the Audi RS 3 LMS: Presented in September 2016, the Audi RS 3 LMS is not yet one year old but it is already celebrating its first great production milestone. In July, Audi Sport customer racing produced the 100th example of the 350 hp race car within the group. The group has combined the assembly of all TCR race cars of its brands at the Martorell site in Spain. Junior racing driver Joonas Lappalainen steered the golden-painted celebratory model across the stage before invited guests at the first Audi Summit Brand Show in Barcelona. On the following day, the management team of the customer racing program from Audi Sport visited the employees of the racing department at Martorell. Chris Reinke, Head of Audi Sport customer racing: “In just its debut season, we have already delivered 90 examples of our race car to customers around the world and have received preorders up to the 100th model. We’re proud that our entry model for touring car racing has gone down so well and that it is already such an important pillar of our model range. My thanks go to our colleagues in Spain for the excellent work in building our race car.” Since January, customer teams have already contested 125 races on three continents – America, Europe and Asia. They have achieved 73 podiums, including 24 victories, at both 12 and 24-hour races, among others. The TCR class is a growing international category. So far, 13 series have already been set up worldwide just for those models. In addition, there are six other circuit championships with classes for TCR models, as well as other racing disciplines such as hillclimbs, in which Audi is also present.

Two trophies for Audi customers in Italy: At the fourth of seven race weekends of TCR Italy, two Audi drivers piloted their Audi RS 3 LMS cars to podium results. Plamen Kralev from Kraf Racing finished second in the first race at Mugello, trailing the winner by only two seconds. The Bulgarian remains the best-ranked Audi driver with third place in the standings. In the second heat, Max Mugelli from Pit Lane Competizioni finished third and improved to fourth place in the standings. 

Two podium results in Japan: Two Audi Sport customer racing teams achieved trophies and points in the TCR class of the Super Taikyu Series at the Autopolis circuit in Japan. Shozo Tagahara, Takuya Shirasaka and Naoto Takeda, in an Audi RS 3 LMS from Audi Team DreamDrive, crossed the finish line second in class after three hours of racing. Third place in class went to Koichi Okumura, Kei Akiyoshi and Kazuzo Ueno, who drove an Audi RS 3 LMS from Birth Racing Project. In the standings of the ST-TCR class, Audi Team DreamDrive moved up to second position after four of six race weekends.