source: Audi AG
- Twelve familiar and two new faces in the Audi Sport customer racing driver squad
- Audi Sport signs Simon Gachet and Max Hofer
Audi Sport customer racing is relying on a mix of experience and youth for its 2023 driver squad. In addition to established drivers, the brand also includes two former customer drivers in the driver squad, Simon Gachet and Max Hofer.
Audi Sport is relying on twelve familiar and two new faces for its driver line-up this year. The very different careers and experiences of the individual race drivers enable them to support the brand in the best possible way through their individual strengths in the diverse customer programs and strategic assignments.
The 24-year-old Italian Mattia Drudi’s greatest success to date was winning the Campionato Italiano Gran Turismo Endurance in 2021. The talented youngster has also showed good performances in strategic endurance races. Last year, 22-year-old Luca Engstler, who previously won TCR touring car titles, managed to clinch a win both in the Nürburgring Langstrecken-Serie and the South African Endurance Series at the first attempt in his debut season in the Audi R8 LMS. The Swiss driver of the same age, Ricardo Feller, winner of the 2021 ADAC GT Masters in an Audi, has also been part of the Audi Sport customer racing driver squad since last year. He has made a name for himself as a particularly fast and reliable driver.
Christopher Haase from Germany is 35 years old and has been a permanent fixture for Audi for more than ten years. In addition to two championship titles, the Bavarian has already clinched four 24-hour overall victories for Audi: he was successful twice at the Nürburgring and once each at Spa and Dubai. His 46-year-old compatriot Pierre Kaffer has already driven sports prototypes, DTM race cars and GT3 models from Audi in his career. The winner of the 2019 Nürburgring 24 Hours who won a European title in the 24H Series last year together with Gentleman drivers is a teammate particularly appreciated by privateers. Gilles Magnus won the rookie classification in the WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup in 2020 and the Trophy classification for privateers in the following year. Since 2022, the 23-year-old Belgian has been part of Audi Sport customer racing’s driver line-up and, in addition to victories with the RS 3 LMS, has also raced the Audi R8 LMS. Dennis Marschall started his career in the Audi Sport TT Cup. Last year, the 26-year-old German was the best-placed Audi Sport driver in the demanding ADAC GT Masters.
At 33, Christopher Mies has already won five championship titles for Audi, spread across Germany, Europe and Australia. Three 24-hour overall victories – two at the Nürburgring and one in Dubai – underline the German’s versatility. Swiss Patric Niederhauser is 31 years old. After his title win in the 2019 ADAC GT Masters he has proven for Audi with a victory in the 2021 Indianapolis 8 Hour, second place in the Intercontinental GT Challenge and other good results that he is also one of the best GT3 drivers internationally. Frank Stippler not only lives near the Nürburgring, but is still a benchmark on this legendary circuit. As a two-time winner of the 24-hour race, he is still a sought-after and successful teammate on the Nordschleife at the age of 47, whether in the Nürburgring Langstrecken-Serie or the 24-hour race.
Frédéric Vervisch won the Nürburgring 24 Hours in the Audi R8 LMS for the second time last year. By finishing second in the WTCR World Touring Car Cup, the now 36-year-old Belgian showed in 2021 that he is also a great at the wheel of the Audi RS 3 LMS. The 42-year-old German Markus Winkelhock has celebrated no less than six overall victories in 24-hour races for Audi: once at Sebring, twice at Spa and three times at the Nürburgring. Winning the Intercontinental GT Challenge in 2017 rounds off his driver biography.
In addition to the twelve familiar drivers, Simon Gachet and Max Hofer are new to the squad. 29-year-old Simon Gachet has been driving the Audi R8 LMS as a customer since 2017. His biggest successes include winning the Silver classification of the 2020 GT World Challenge Europe Sprint Cup with Audi. Last year, the Frenchman won a gold medal for his country at the FIA Motorsport Games. Max Hofer is also a familiar face at Audi Sport. The 23-year-old Austrian has already shown his talent in the Audi Sport TT Cup and drove an RS 3 LMS in the ADAC TCR Germany. He is also familiar with the Audi R8 LMS GT4. In 2019, he won the junior classification in the ADAC GT Masters in an Audi R8 LMS. Last year, he also clinched the title in the GTC Race series with this GT3 sports car.
“With this driver line-up, we are well positioned for the 2023 season and can support customers with the individual strengths of our drivers in a wide variety of programs,” says Chris Reinke, Head of Audi Sport customer racing. “A warm welcome to Simon and Max, who have known our products for a long time. We’ve been watching them for years and are happy to be able to give them these opportunities. A big thank you also goes to two other drivers who are no longer part of our squad this year. Nathanaël Berthon achieved victories for us in the WTCR FIA World Touring Car Cup and made a major contribution to the development of the Audi RS 3 LMS. Kelvin van der Linde has clinched championship titles, 24-hour race victories and many other successes with Audi. Even though he is giving his career a new impetus, we would be happy to see him in the cockpit of an Audi R8 LMS again in the near future for individual programs or races.”