Survival of the fittest

Getting race fit, the Audi way.

Audi Sport’s elite factory drivers took to the Canary Islands for their annual week of training and team building to prepare for the race season ahead.

11 February, 2019

So you think that the life of an elite racing driver is spent tirelessly practicing on the race tracks of the world, always chasing that fraction of a second per lap – that edge that could mean the win come race day. Well think again, there’s a lot more to it than strapping in and driving at eleven tenths.

Last week, the Audi Motorsport DTM and Formula E drivers headed to the Canary islands off the coast of West Africa for their annual week of fitness training and team building. Along with Head of Audi Motorsport Dieter Gass and the respective team principals, the group hurled themselves with customary gusto into a range of taxing sports and activities designed to test fitness and build even stronger ties within the group.

This is the fourth year that the group have headed to Club La Santa on Lanzarote and the idyllic location was perfect for a range of sports on land and on the water.

“This was our fourth time at Club La Santa, which offers simply ideal conditions,” says Tom Kristensen. The nine time Le Mans winner, together with team physician Dr. Vincenzo Tota looks after the mental and physical strengths of the Audi factory drivers and every year surprises them with new sports and exciting challenges in Lanzarote.”

From long road bike rides, to mountain bike tours across lava fields and fat bikes on the beach, there was plenty of wheeled action. But the activities took the seasoned racing drivers into areas less familiar, including surfing, stand-up paddling, boxing, softball tennis, table tennis, water polo, swimming, beach volleyball, weight training and climbing, with a special DIY challenge thrown in for good measure.

Tom Kristensen and team physician Dr. Vincenzo Tota looks after the mental and physical strengths of the Audi factory drivers and every year surprises them with new sports and challenges

So despite the spectacular location, for DTM drivers, Loïc Duval, Robin Frijns, Jamie Green, Nico Müller, René Rast and Mike Rockenfeller, their Formula E colleagues, Daniel Abt and Lucas di Grassi, and their team principals the seven days on the Canary Island were anything but a relaxing vacation. 

“It’s about taking the drivers to their limits and building their strengths in the long run so that they’re able to do a perfect job for Audi in extreme situations,” says Kristensen.

“Obviously, fun and team building are part of the program.” 

The team competition at the end of the week that remains top secret until the last minute has almost become a tradition. This time the challenge was to build garden sheds within the space of barely three hours and to make them look like the huts that are used at race tracks. All three teams managed to do a near-perfect job of this, with each of the three creations showcasing different motorsport themes that impressed the jury around Head of Audi Motorsport Dieter Gass. But despite their apparent skills with hammer and nails, none of the drivers will be looking for a vocational change any time soon. Lucas di Grassi and Daniel Abt are focused on the next round of the Formula E Championship this weekend in Mexico, while the DTM drivers are very much looking forward to their season opener at the Hockenheimring on the first weekend in May.

Despite the stunning location, this was not a week of relaxing and kicking back on the beach for the DTM drivers and their Formula E colleagues