Audi Motorsport Newsletter 40/2016

Audi’s partner Castrol visits Neuburg

Guests of Audi’s partner Castrol were treated to a very special adventure during their visit to the Audi driving experience center in Neuburg. The group of some 160 visitors met with DTM drivers Timo Scheider and Edoardo Mortara there who offered them opportunities to ride in the Audi R8 racing taxi. In addition, with guidance provided by Audi instructors, they took part in a driver safety training session and were taken on a tour of the Motorsport Competence Center.

International talents apply for 2017 Audi Sport TT Cup

The 2017 Audi Sport TT Cup is on the horizon. After the second season in Audi’s one-make cup has ended and the new champion, Joonas Lappalainen, has been determined, the international talent search for the coming year is already in full swing. More than 80 young talents from 18 countries have applied to date. “The quality of the applicants is very promising,” says Project Leader Philipp Mondelaers. “We have again received numerous international inquiries, including from Asia, Australia and the United States.” The first evaluation event in Groß Dölln has already taken place. It will be followed by others at the Audi Motorsport Competence Center in Neuburg an der Donau. For the session on November 26, openings are still available. The registration form for the 2017 Audi Sport TT Cup 2017 can be obtained online:

A word from … Mike Rockenfeller

Mike Rockenfeller celebrates his 33rd birthday on Monday. Last Friday, he sat at the wheel of an Audi test car for the 2017 DTM season.

How did the test at Oschersleben go?

It was very interesting for me to drive for the first time the different tire compounds, which we can choose from in the 2017 season. The car was also not the same as the ones we drove at the season finale, but in fact a hybrid. It still wasn’t the final car for the 2017 season, but it had several things for next year. It was very intriguing to see how the tires and the car behaved. Oschersleben is also a good circuit where you can be hard on the material – this is very important at this stage because it involves testing the reliability of the new components and to release the parts for competition. In my opinion it was a very good test.

Is the DTM developing in the right direction?

Basically yes. The tire is certainly going in the right direction, if it comes like this. The car will also be more interesting. But the tire will make the biggest difference. Driving without pre-heated tires is also a new challenge in the DTM, which I already know from other racing series’ and that will make a big difference. There are many new challenges for next year, which in my opinion will ensure that the DTM evolves positively.

What’s it like to drive a DTM car without pre-heated tires?

It was obviously very cool at this time of year in Oschersleben. You have to be very cautious on the first lap out of the pits. On the other hand you have to push immediately in the race. The trick will be to find the balance between making no mistakes and not losing too much time.

After three years in an almost unchanged car there is plenty of development work on the agenda over the coming winter with the successor to the Audi RS 5 DTM. Are you looking forward to this?

Absolutely, this is an exciting phase. Since the omission of the option tire, there were actually no other changes in the DTM. During the winter it was just detail work. Now there is another big step and more room to maneuver. This is always interesting, because the driver will move more into the limelight in the DTM next year.

It is now official that only 18 instead of 24 cars will race in 2017. Do you view this point as negative as some of the media?

Not at all. Of course, every driver and every fan wants as many cars as possible on the grid. But I think the focus in the races is anyway on the top third. It’s crucial that the races are exciting with many overtaking maneuvers and the cars are fascinating. And in these aspects the DTM is on the right path.

Coming up next week

31/10 Mike Rockenfeller 33rd birthday
04–06/11 Shanghai (CN), round 8, WEC
05–06/11 Barcelona (E), races 13 and 14, GT Open
05–06/11 Estoril (P), round 7, V de V Endurance Series
04–05/11 Shanghai (CN), races 11 and 12, Audi R8 LMS Cup

– End –

FIA WEC to race in Audi’s largest market

In addition to di Grassi/Duval/Jarvis, Marcel Fässler/André Lotterer/Benoît Tréluyer (CH/D/F) will be attacking for Audi. The trio, in 2013, clinched Audi’s only victory at Shanghai to date. The 5.451-kilometer track features some extreme sections. Two helical turns are unique and two long straights call for good top speed. The other cornering radii range from three turns being driven in first gear to fast bends which the drivers tackle in fourth or fifth gear.

For Audi, China including Hong Kong is the largest single market anywhere in the world. Last year, Audi delivered 571,000 automobiles there. In the first three quarters of 2016, the brand increased its deliveries by 6.2 percent compared to the same period of the previous year.

In addition to the FIA WEC, local fans can look forward to being treated to another great racing event. As part of the supporting program at Shanghai, the Audi R8 LMS Cup will take place on the same weekend, Audi’s first one-make cup holding its two final rounds there. The top five drivers in the standings still have chances of winning the title.

The 6 Hours of Shanghai race will start on Sunday, November 6, at 11:00 local time (04:00 CET). On its German website, Eurosport will be offering free video live streaming for the entire race and live TV coverage of the final stage (08:30 to 10:15 CET) on Eurosport 1. Audi is going to keep its fans up to speed on Facebook (AudiSport) and Twitter (@audisport).

Standings after seven of nine rounds

Drivers’ standings

1 Jani/Lieb/Dumas (Porsche), 140 points                                                

2 Conway/Kobayashi/Sarrazin (Toyota), 117 points                         

3 Di Grassi/Duval/Jarvis (Audi), 111.5 points                                         

4 Bernhard/Hartley/Webber (Porsche), 93.5 points

5 Fässler/Lotterer (Audi), 78 points

6 Imperatori/Kraihamer/Tuscher (Rebellion), 60 points

7 Lapierre/Menezes/Richelmi (Alpine-Nissan), 46 points

8 Tréluyer (Audi), 44 points

Manufacturers’ standings

1 Porsche, 263 points

2 Audi, 204 points

3 Toyota, 174 points

– End –

Audi Group: Special items weigh on third quarter

“The conditions our company faces are currently very challenging,” remarked Rupert Stadler, Chairman of the Board of Management of AUDI AG. “Nevertheless, we have achieved further growth since the start of the year.” He interpreted this as evidence of the Audi brand’s high appeal. “We have an attractive model portfolio that we will strengthen further with future new products. Our strategic plan is in place. The task for our strong Audi team now is to implement it systematically.”

From January through September, the Audi Group delivered 1,408,783 (2015: 1,347,883) cars of its core brand to customers, 4.5 percent more than in the prior‑year period. The brand increased its unit sales in all three key sales regions – Europe, China and the United States. Revenue rose slightly to € 44,017 (2015: 43,695) million.

Burdened by special items amounting to € 885 million, operating profit for the Audi Group at the end of the third quarter came to € 3,033 (2015: 4,024) million and the operating return on sales reached 6.9 (2015: 9.2) percent. The special items include € 752 million in risk provisioning to tackle the V6 3.0 TDI diesel issue. There are also special items amounting to € 133 million in connection with potentially faulty airbags made by Takata.

Before special items, the operating profit came to € 3,918 (2015: 4,024) million and the operating return on sales to 8.9 (2015: 9.2) percent after the third quarter. These key financial figures reflect the operating activities of the Audi Group. In addition to currency effects, the fall compared with the prior‑year period above all reveals the expansion of the model and technology portfolio, along with the international manufacturing structures, in the form of higher depreciation and amortization.

“Our model and technology pipeline is well filled,” commented Axel Strotbek, Member of the Board of Management for Finance and IT at AUDI AG. “Now that our new Mexican plant has opened, we will start to ramp up production there. In Ingolstadt, the Q2 and the new A5 family are on the starting blocks.” With the next generation of the Neckarsulm‑built A8, Audi intends to make the transition from partially to highly automated driving. In 2018, the brand is planning the market introduction of its first all‑electric‑drive SUV with a range of more than 500 kilometers (310.7 mi). “Our model initiative and technology shift require us to increase efficiency and flexibility throughout the entire company and set clear priorities for our capital investments,” explained Strotbek.

The Audi Group posted a profit before tax of € 2,839 (2015: 4,249) million in the first three quarters; profit after tax came to € 2,158 (2015: 3,284) million.

The brand with the Four Rings delivered 455,613 (2015: 445,611) cars to customers in the period from July through September 2016. Over that period, the Audi Group generated revenue amounting to € 13,883 (2015: 13,911) million. Audi increased the risk provisioning items for technical measures, legal risks and sales measures in connection with the V6 3.0 TDI diesel issue by € 620 million in the third quarter. The operating profit is € 632 (2015: 1,110) million and the operating return on sales 4.6 (2015: 8.0) percent.  Before special items, the operating profit is € 1,252 (2015: 1,110) million and the operating return on sales 9.0 (2015: 8.0) percent.

With the publication of the Third Quarter Report, the Audi Group to some extent adjusts the forecast for its key performance indicators for the full year. Essentially as a result of altered exchange rate assumptions, the company now expects revenue to be on the level of the previous year. For the operating return on sales, which is adversely affected by special items that can only be planned and controlled to a limited extent, the premium manufacturer now expects a figure well below the strategic target corridor of eight to ten percent. Before special items, the forecast of an operating return on sales within this corridor remains valid. With regard to the return on investment, Audi adjusts its forecast to a figure below 16 percent to take account of special items. However, this figure is expected to remain above the minimum required rate of return of nine percent.

Download Audi Quarterly Report:

AUDI AG: Adjustment to the balance sheet risk provisions as of the third quarter 2016

Due to special items posted in the first three quarters for the V6 3.0 TDI engine issues and Takata airbags, we are now assuming that the operating return on sales after special items in the financial year 2016 should be considerably below the target corridor of 8 to 10 percent. For the 2016 interim financial report, the Audi Group was still assuming a figure slightly below the abovementioned target corridor.

Before special items, the Audi Group is still expecting an operating return on sales within the corridor of 8 to 10 percent.

Audi with new motorsport strategy: Formula E instead of WEC

Speaking to 300 employees of the motorsport department on Wednesday morning, Chairman of the Board of Management Rupert Stadler put this strategic decision in the context of the current burdens on the brand, pointing out that it was important to focus on the things that would keep Audi competitive in the years ahead. That is why the Board of Management had decided to terminate Audi’s commitment in endurance racing. In the future, Audi will be using the know-how and skills of the motorsport experts from Neuburg and Neckarsulm partially in motorsport and partially in production development. 

“We’re going to contest the race for the future on electric power,” says Stadler. “As our production cars are becoming increasingly electric, our motorsport cars, as Audi’s technological spearheads, have to even more so.” The first all-electric racing series perfectly matches the strategy of offering fully battery-electric models year by year starting in 2018, Audi currently being in the greatest transformation stage in the company’s history. The commitment in FIA Formula E will already commence in 2017. It is regarded as the racing series with the greatest potential for the future. That is why Audi has intensified the existing partnership with Team ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport in the current 2016/2017 season. On the road toward a full factory commitment, the manufacturer is now actively joining the technical development.

The commitment in the DTM, where Audi will be competing with the successor of the Audi RS 5 DTM in 2017, will remain untouched. In mid-October, the premium brand won the manufacturers’ and teams’ classifications. In 2013, Mike Rockenfeller most recently brought the title of DTM Champion home for the four rings.

No final decision has yet been made concerning a future involvement in the FIA World Rallycross Championship (World RX). In the current 2016 season, DTM factory driver Mattias Ekström in his Audi S1 EKS RX quattro clinched the World Championship title early, competing against numerous factory teams. Up to now, Audi’s involvement has been limited to supporting the private EKS team. The brand is currently evaluating a possible extension of the commitment, the exciting topic of electrification being on the agenda in rallycross racing as well.

The departure from the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) marks the end of a successful era. For 18 years, the brand was active in Le Mans prototype racing. During this period, it scored 13 victories in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and set numerous technical milestones. At Le Mans, Audi clinched the first victory of a TFSI engine (2001), the first success of a race car with a TDI engine (2006), plus the first triumph of a sports car with a hybrid powertrain (2012). In the brand’s 185 races contested to date, Audi’s Le Mans prototypes have achieved 106 victories, 80 pole positions and 94 fastest race laps. On two occasions, Audi won the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) with the Audi R18 e-tron quattro race car. In addition, from 2000 to 2008, Audi, nine times in succession, secured the title in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS), the world’s most important racing series for Le Mans prototypes at the time.

“After 18 years in prototype racing that were exceptionally successful for Audi, it’s obviously extremely hard to leave,” says Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. “Audi Sport Team Joest shaped the WEC during this period like no other team. I would like to express my thanks to our squad, to Reinhold Joest and his team, to the drivers, partners and sponsors for this extremely successful cooperation. It’s been a great time!” Due to the LMP commitment, Audi has been demonstrating Vorsprung durch Technik and learning a lot for use in production.