Since the very beginning, motorsport has been an integral part of the Audi brand and continues to shape its vehicles today.
16 September, 2020
On the surface, southern Germany in the early 1900s wouldn’t seem to have much in common with present day Bathurst. But look a little more closely and the common traits are there to see. In 1905 the first Herkomer Run was hosted in Germany – a gruelling long-distance race and one of the first of its kind – and Bathurst is of course Australia’s most famous race track and home to the Bathurst 12 Hour Race.
Both of these races have been won my Audi, although the brand’s first victory in the Herkomer Run (1906) and first victory in the Bathurst 12 Hour Race (2011) are separated not only by 105 years, but by countless races in all manner of motorsport formats around the globe.
That 1906 victory put Horch (the precursor to Audi) very much on the map, and subsequent wins in the Austrian Alpine Rally in 1912, 1913 and 1914 cemented the brand as a motorsport powerhouse.
Through the halcyon days of the Silver Arrows in the 1930s, that hunger for motorsport success only grew, with brave, brilliant drivers like Tazio Nuvolari and Bernd Rosemeyer, successfully wrestling the massively powerful Auto Union race cars around the racetracks of Europe.
Name a significant race series since and there’s a better than safe bet that Audi has not only competed in it but stamped its authority all over it at some point. From the complete domination of the World Rally Championship through the 1980s to the American IMSA series, World Endurance Championship and of course the 24 Hours of Le Mans from 2000 to 2014. The tremendous success internationally of the Audi R8 LMS in GT racing continues to this day, making it one of the most successful GT cars ever, which also brings us closer to home and the Bathurst 12 Hour. In 2011 the brand scored its first victory with a classic 1-2 result, and then backed up the following year to defend its crown. A third victory in 2018 made Audi the most successful brand in the modern era of the race and Australian GT Championships for Audi in 2011, 2015, 2017, 2018 and 2019 make a compelling argument for the R8 LMS GT3 being the car to beat.
So the next time you spot an Audi R8 or any one of the RS models, remember that in addition to the engineering and leading-edge technology that goes into each and every Audi Sport model, there’s also a little bit of every race the brand has contested along the way mixed in there too.
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