Leena Gade – the lady behind Audi Sport Team Joest
British Leena Gade is the head race engineer for Audi Sport Team Joest. Inspired by ‘what the machines could do’ when watching Formula One growing up, Gade has since inspired many others to take an interest in engineering, now one of the most senior women in motorsport and the World Endurance Championships (WEC).
In 2011, Leena Gade became the first female engineer to win the Le Mans 24-hour endurance race. At the helm of Team Joest, Gade guided André Lotterer, Benoît Tréluyer and Marcel Fässler as they drove the Audi R18 TDI to victory.
Team Joest won the iconic race in 2012 and 2014 too under Gade, with the ground-breaking Audi R18 e-tron quattro at the core. With wins at Silverstone and Spa too, this accomplished individual has cemented her position in the motorsport world as an influential, successful leader and key team-player.
Focused and determined, the whole team look to Gade and see the boss rather than a woman. Her hardworking attitude and incredible knowledge are evident, as an additional role sees Gade work on developing new race cars for Audi as well as being a race engineer.
With her great achievements recognised, Gade won the FIA WEC’s ‘Man of the Year’ award and the C&R Racing Woman in Technology Award in 2012, plus she was an Ambassador of the FIA Commission for Women in Motorsport in 2013 and 2014.
In the 2015 season, Team Joest finished runner up in the FIA World Endurance Championship, just five points shy of triumph – but Audi continues to be the most successful manufacturer in the first four years of the championship, with 15 of the 32 race wins going to the Audi R18 - no other manufacturer has such a high win rate in the LMP1 class.
The Audi drivers André Lotterer, Benoît Tréluyer and Marcel Fässler hold a record as well, as in addition to a world championship title, they have celebrated ten overall victories to date, which is almost a third of all races, more than any other drivers. In the 2015 season, they took a podium place in all the rounds, an accomplishment not achieved by any other team – and all under Gade.
With a refreshed R18 e-tron quattro for 2016 and a crew capable of winning, Team Joest are well-equipped for success. We will have to wait and see what happens in the new season, but it is sure to contain a thrilling title race yet again.