words: George Achorn, photos: André Lotterer
Editor’s note: This article originally ran in the q2_2019 issue of quattro magazine.
Let’s just lay this out there because it needs to be said. André Lotterer needs to stay in his lane.
At the age of 37, the guy’s logged three Le Mans wins as an Audi Sport factory driver, switched to Porsche’s 919 program when Audi shuttered their LMP program, and today runs one of the top seats in Formula E – in addition to moonlighting for the Rebellion LMP1 team in the FIA WEC. André’s smooth; attracting the attention of sponsors like TAG Heuer and Hugo Boss…and likely attracting the eye of your significant other.
It gets worse. André Lotterer is a legit car enthusiast. He’s got a killer vintage car collection painstakingly chosen to be the ultimate in cool and also financially appreciating. He’s smart about his acquisitions and keen on the knowledge that his ownership doesn’t hurt their provenance any. His fleet consists of everything from a concours quality ’67 Ford Mustang Fastback, to a rare ’73 Porsche 911 2.7 RS, an even more rare 964 Carrera RS 3.8, a former works 356 Speedster, and a military spec Volkswagen T3 Syncro.
That Sport quattro though…it’s got a special place. While the Lotterer fleet is often in storage, the mid-80s Audi homologation special is what he keeps at his home in Monaco. It’s what he takes to the café for an espresso with one of his many racing driver contemporaries who also reside in the principality known for its F1 road circuit, its casino, its James Bond scene locations and, most specifically, its qualities as a tax haven.
More recently, André has shaved off a bit of his already scant free time. When he’s not hanging about with his chocolate Labrador Max (ed. insert “awww”s here) or jetting off to a race or to see his mom in Belgium (more “awww”s), André’s gone and gotten himself a Leica camera and taken up photography. Worse, he’s frustratingly good at it.
It’s at this point we’re wondering if he could just pick something that the rest of us schlubs could call our own. On the up side, Lotterer’s new-found, keen ability to shoot photography does help us make do without the sorts of budgets quattroMagazine would have to maintain in order to fly off to Monaco to shoot a car like his Sport quattro. (We’re trying to see the positive here. – Ed.) In all seriousness though, it gives us the opportunity to see the Sport quattro through his own eyes.
Lotterer’s affinity for Audi goes back past his first victory at Le Mans in 2011. It goes further back than his first Le Mans in a privateer Kolles Audi R10 TDI when he impressively ran the entire 24 hours with just one other driver. His freshman teammate pulled his groin jumping the wall from the starting grid, in order to take a last-minute pee. His affinity goes back much further than all of that, maybe even before this Sport quattro was built…. maybe even before he was conceived.
“If you’re an Audi enthusiast as I am, you have a thing for these cars…even despite the fact that I raced for Audi. I grew up in it. My dad’s race team was doing track and rally. They were in deep with the Volkswagen Group and were playing with Audis early. The 5-cylinder was already around.”
André remembers that his father had an S2 with a lot of power. Riding around with his dad, he’d imitate the distinctive blaring sound of the turbocharged Audi 5-cylinder. “This was the ‘80s and ‘90s. Audi wasn’t there yet as a brand but establishing themselves with great innovations. For me, Audi was always something very special.”
By the time André began searching for a Sport quattro, he’d been an Audi Sport factory driver with Audi for two years, both of which he’d logged Le Mans victories for the Four Rings. It was a pretty special time and he began to put out his feelers trying to locate a car. Then a friend from Belgium reached out to share information on a car that was registered in France.
The Sport quattro in question wasn’t exactly stock. It had been tuned by Hohenester, a German firm that had made itself legend by building Sport quattros and RS2 Avants that could walk a king-of-the-hill hyper car like the Ferrari F40 in period. In as much, this red example was pushing 450 horsepower; well north of the 302 figure the car’s homologation spec aluminum block 5-cylinder had come with from the factory.
Lotterer was familiar with this shop and its owner Alphonse Hohenester. Alphonse had once raced for André’s dad. The idea of having an even more wild and unique Sport quattro built by an old friend of his father’s appealed to the then two-time Le Mans winner.
Beyond the Hohenester tune, the Sport quattro has even more interesting modifications. The suspension is also tuned, sitting lower than a typical Sport quattro and possibly comprised of Group B components though he’s not been able to confirm this yet. The wheels are the same white painted Speedlines used by Audi Sport on the racing versions of the car in Group B. And just in case that wasn’t enough, Lotterer went ahead and added a straight pipe for improved sound from that 5-cylinder engine he once parroted as a kid.
For the next three years, André and the Sport quattro had a lot of fun with Audi. Lotterer was one of the fastest drivers on the Audi Sport LMP1 squad and netted his third Le Mans win and his first WEC championship with them. Not surprisingly, Audi Sport was more than happy to have him parking the car at paddock hospitality while at races. Audi Argentina even invited him to take part in a Patagonian vintage rally with the car. Audi Tradition put Lotterer and the Sport quattro on their calendar.
During this period, another race with another historic Audi Coupé popped up. In 1981, when his mom was pregnant with André, his father had been working for the Nothelle team and built a normally-aspirated front-wheel drive Coupe GT that was campaigned in the DRM (Deutsche Rennsport Meisterschaft) series. The car had recently been restored by its Belgian owner with help from Nothelle and the Belgian Audi Club had contacted Lotterer about running it in a historic race at Spa-Francorchamps.
As André tells it, the race was about 25 laps. He knew this track well and had run it in the WEC at the wheel of an Audi R18. In many ways though, this was just as special…if not more. About seven or eight laps in, the vintage radial racing tires were warming up. The same high-revving 2-valve 5-cylinder engine on which his dad had made the heads was on song; revving past 9000 rpm. Everything was going right, and he had the courage to take the legendary curve at Eau Rouge flat out. “It was gnarly. When you do the classic races, these cars move around quite a bit. There’s an on-board video on YouTube. It’s worth checking out.”
Those old cars aren’t quite as fast as their modern counterparts though. Well… perhaps that Coupe GT isn’t. The Sport quattro is a different story. Lotterer shares that one day he and his fellow racecar driver, James Rossiter, had a bit of a race with the Sport quattro. André was at the wheel of the Sport quattro, of course, and James was driving Lotterer’s then company car – a Nimbus Grey Audi RS 6 Avant. The RS 6 is quite powerful, but the Sport quattro didn’t miss a beat. “You lose a bit of time with the shifts because of the manual, but the power-to-weight ratio for the Sport quattro is better.”
Driving around Monaco, the Sport quattro may be even more of a celebrity than Lotterer. Perhaps the locals get jaded when the neighborhood is populated by a veritable who’s who of the sports car and F1 racing world. That Sport quattro though; it’s a bit more unique in such a locale… and a car enthusiast locale at that.
“It turns so many heads,” relays André. “People know what it is; in Monaco and in nearby France. ‘This was Michele Mouton’s car,’ they say. It is beautiful without being beautiful.”
These days Lotterer’s remaining association with Audi is his daily driver. He’s still under contract with Porsche though spending the season with Rebellion in the WEC and with DS Techeetah in Formula E since Porsche isn’t currently fielding prototype racers or Formula E cars. It’d be great to see André get that second open seat at Porsche’s Formula E team when it arrives next year. Even cooler for Audi enthusiasts would be seeing him at the wheel of an Audi e-tron Formula E car.
Only time will tell next season or seasons after that. In the meantime, when he’s not racing, Lotterer is working on his aforementioned photographyandhelping the next generation drivers like Esteban Muth work their way through Formula 3 plus the business of racing.
Beyond that, who knows? After racing, he’d love to set up some sort of cool space with that collection of cars in the background. Some sort of restoration shop, with coffee… “It’s a long-term idea. I don’t know if I’ll do it, but it would be cool to create a scene.”
If he does it, we suspect he’ll dominate the space just as he does with everything else.