An exceptional total of four high profile, world class motor racing championships have been decisively won this year by Audi – the ‘Vorsprung Durch Technik’ brand that has become synonymous with the chequered flag. In 2004 Audi has conquered the Le Mans Endurance racing Series in Europe and America, the German Touring Car Masters (DTM) with the A4 DTM car and the North American SPEED GT World Challenge - a landmark achievement.
New Audi A4 DTM car Takes Championship at its first attempt
The prestige German car maker achieved instant domination this year with its new A4 DTM car, more than ten years after the Audi V8 quattro racers’ triumphant winning streak in the German Touring Car Championship (DTM). Audi returned to the series in 2004 with six newly developed Audi A4 DTM cars, and utterly dominated. The Manufacturers’ and Teams’ titles have been won by Audi Sport Team Abt, and the Drivers’ title by A4 DTM driver Mattias Ekström.
The Audi A4 DTM scored five race wins in the 10-race series (4 for Ekström) and a total of 11 top-three finishes in the year that its latest road going A4 was revealed to the World.
Le Mans Victories again in Europe and America:
In the 2004 Le Mans Endurance Series (LMES) Audi was also utterly dominant, with British racers Jamie Davies and Johnny Herbert, campaigning for Audi Sport UK Team Veloqx, claiming both the Drivers’ and Teams’ LMES (LM P1) titles respectively. The championship covered a total of almost 2,500 miles, and the Veloqx Audis led for all but 250 of these.
In winning the fourth and final race at Spa Francorchamps in Belgium (12 Sep), Davies and Herbert scored the Audi R8 sportscar's momentous 50th race victory in its 60th race since the sports-prototype's début in March 2000. Fellow Audi Sport UK Team Veloqx racers Pierre Kaffer and Allan McNish, who started the race leading the championship but unfortunately were forced to retire after a collision with a slower car, finished title runners-up.
Apart from the four-race LMES (Monza, Nurburgring, Silverstone and Spa), in which Audi Sport UK Team Veloqx won each race outright, the Veloqx Audi squad also claimed second (Davies/Herbert/Guy Smith) and fifth (Biela/Kaffer/McNish) places in the gruelling and extremely hard-fought Le Mans 24 Hours. Both cars started from the front row and the Davies, Herbert, Smith R8 held the lead for the opening 15 hours.
American Le Mans Series (ALMS)
As well as its LMES success, Audi Sport UK Team Veloqx also took the chequered flag in the first round of the American Le Mans Series, and in the process became the only Audi "customer" sportscar outfit in 2004 to win an endurance race on both sides of the Atlantic. Champion Audi went on to win six more races in the nine-fixture series, the American Audi team’s latest success coming last Saturday (October 16) when Johnny Herbert and Pierre Kaffer enjoyed a memorable victory in the ninth and final round at Laguna Seca in California. The impressive final total of seven Audi wins has secured the ALMS P1 Manufacturers’ championship title for Audi for a sixth consecutive year, with the P1 Drivers’ ‘crown’ going to six-time winners JJ Lehto and Marco Werner.
SPEED GT World Challenge
By finishing fourth in the finale of the North American GT series at Laguna Seca on Sunday October 17, last year’s champion Randy Pobst secured the Manufacturers’ title for Audi for a third time in his RS 6 Competition. Michael Galati finished the season as best placed Audi driver in second position, missing the Drivers’ title by just six points. The quattro permanent four-wheel-drive Audi scored four 1-2 finishes in the 10-race series, despite the infliction by the organision SCCA of various power and weight restrictions on the car.Published 23 October 2004