Audi’s spectacular 1-2 finish in its final FIA World Endurance Championship race marked the perfect end to an incredible era, both for the iconic prototype programme and long-serving Head of Motorsport Dr Wolfgang Ullrich, as he transitions toward well-deserved retirement.
‘There is no question that this final race, especially the last two races after the news, it was the end of an era. It was special,’ commented Ullrich, in an interview. ‘Knowing what it means for everybody, the entire squad was very much motivated in the last race to make a good result out of it. That we could make it happen at the end, it was really the best thing that was possible at that moment.’
The Bahrain weekend was probably the strongest run of the year for Audi, with Lucas Di Grassi and Oliver Jarvis scoring pole, and teaming with Loic Duval for a dominant win, which also included the Brazilian driver earning the fastest race lap of the competition. It came as an incredible end to an uncharacteristic season for the German manufacturer, with its new-for-2016 R18 struggling for reliability even if it never lacked pace.
‘We had a car the whole season that was able to win,’ said Ullrich. ‘But it’s different to most of the other years, as our cars have not been on the level of reliability and we struggled a little bit with that.’
One of the biggest achievements for the programme is of course its longevity, having spanned nearly two decades; a feat that can only be matched by Corvette Racing in modern-day racing. Ullrich said that the pioneering of new technologies is ultimately what kept the programme so strong and iconic:
‘For me it is just a red line going through the programmes, and this was always new technology and relevant technology for the road cars,’ he said.
Examples of motorsport technology in road cars can be seen in the popular and innovative Audi RS range in particular, and the full line-up can be explored right here at Jardine Motors Audi.