The New Year will see a new man at the helm of Audi Motorsport. From January 1, Dieter Gass will take over the role as head of motorsport as his predecessor steps aside after almost a quarter of a century in control. Dr Wolfgang Ullrich, 66, has been the head of Audi Motorsport for the last 23 years and will continue to have an advisory role with Audi Sport until the close of 2017.
Long-term plan for Audi Sport
The arrival of Gass as his successor has been planned for some time. According to Audi, Dr Ullrich lured Gass back to Audi at the start of 2012 with the ultimate aim of grooming the electromechanical engineering graduate to become his successor. The pair have spent the last five years effectively as joint heads of Audi Sport but the time has now arrived for Gass to take sole control.
As the new head of motorsport at Audi AG, 53-year-old Gass will be in charge of all of Audi’s factory-backed commitments. These currently include the DTM (Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters) and FIA Formula E.
Ullrich said that Gass would lead Audi Sport as it went through a ‘transformation stage’ and would continue to fuel Audi’s motorsport successes. He said that Gass is one of only a few people to understand Audi Sport in such detail. Gass first joined Audi Sport in November 1994 and stayed until March 2001. He worked as an engineer, first specialising in super touring cars and then moving to the company’s sports prototype programme.
Formula One know-how for Audi
Gass subsequently went on to take on leading roles in Formula One over the next 11 years. Ullrich said that it was during this time that Gass gained a wealth of knowledge which has proved beneficial to Audi Sport since Gass returned to Audi in 2012.
He spent a year as the head of racing commitments at Audi Sport and then another four as the head of DTM. Ullrich said that it was now time to take a further ‘carefully planned step’, adding that he would be assisting Gass in the role as an advisor but would not be involved in the business’ operational side. He added that he was confident that the motorsport commitments of Audi would be ‘in good hands’.
Filling large shoes
Gass has admitted that he has ‘very large’ shoes to fill as he takes on the role vacated by Ullrich, who managed ‘exceptional achievements’ during his 23 years at the helm. These included the development of a range of global partnering teams and achievements in countless super touring car championships, in addition to 13 wins in the Le Mans 24 Hours and numerous STM titles.
Ullrich was also instrumental in Audi’s customer racing development and the move by Audi Sport to its Neuburg Competence Center. Gass said that careers such as Ullrich’s were rarely seen in motorsport.
Ullrich said that he had enjoyed his time as the head of Audi Sport ‘very much’, adding that there were many major successes to celebrate, together with the chance that it had offered him to work with so many ‘great people’, teams and partners.
He said that Audi’s management board has continually to shown faith in its motorsport capabilities, even during more challenging stages, but added that Audi Sport had repeatedly justified the trust placed in it, with its continued delivery of championship titles and other victories.Image source