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In the Beginning

Debuting for the 2000 season, Audi’s R8 won the 24 Hours of Le Mans five times in the next six years. Photo: Audi

My involve-ment with Audi came directly from my work, as a supplier to Audi, with exhaust systems and catalytic converters. The company I was involved with was Gillet, a West German company where I was head of their research and development department. Audi was a regular customer, and I got to know many of Audi’s people. In those days, Dr. Daimler was the head of Audi development; the head of the Audi motorsport department was directly answerable to Dr. Daimler—which is still the case today. Dr. Daimler had been an assistant at the University of Vienna at the same time as I, we knew very well of each other’s background in motorsport. In 1993, Audi was looking for a new Director of Motorsport and I was available. Dr. Daimler contacted me, by that time I had left motorsport—like many drivers I dearly wanted to be involved in Formula One, but that was not to be. Since leaving the University, I’d taken another direction and became involved in other areas of motor engineering away from racing. I worked for many years with Porsche and several other road car manufacturers before eventually ending up at Gillet. Audi offered me the opportunity of getting back into the sport, as their Director of Motorsport, and I’ve been here since 1993.

Dr Wolfgang UllrichPhoto: Pete Austin
Dr Wolfgang Ullrich
Photo: Pete Austin

I was head of all development at Gillet and organizing and managing some 70 or 80 people, engineers and the like. The Director of Motorsport is just another man management exercise, on the one side you have the technical department on the other you have the race drivers—who you have to gel into a strong team. Yes, I had to deal with them in a way that I’d not been used to, but I pushed to find how to deal with top sports people and to manage and motivate them in such a way that they became a strong team for the company.

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