Audi Sport boss Stephan Winkelmann will leave the company later this year to become president of Bugatti.
Winkelmann, 52, has led Audi’s performance division since March 2016. He will replace 59-year-old Wolfgang Dürheimer at Bugatti, sources at its parent company, the Volkswagen Group, have revealed.
Although Dürheimer is relinquishing his post at Bugatti, Autocar has been told he will remain chairman of Bentley for the foreseeable future.
Audi has tapped Michael-Julius Renz to replace Winkelmann as CEO at Audi Sport. The 59-year-old has been president of Audi's China sales division since January 2015 and previously served as its head of sales in Germany.
Renz began his career at Audi in 1994 as head of retail marketing.
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Volkswagen Group officials suggest longer-term management plans will see Winkelmann, who headed Lamborghini between 2005 and 2016, replacing Dürheimer as chairman of Bentley.
Dürheimer has had two stints as Bentley's chairman. The first was between 2010 and 2012.
It is not clear where Dürheimer will end up in the post-Dieselgate management structure. Dürheimer's contract at Bentley is understood to end in mid-2019. It is said that he wanted to leave at the end of this year but has been convinced to stay until at least the launch of the Continental GTC, the convertible version of the recently launched Continental GT.
A former research and development boss at Porsche, Dürheimer was appointed to a similar position at Audi in 2012. However, clashes with former Volkswagen chairman Martin Winterkorn over the direction of a number of electric car projects saw him return to Bentley in 2013 after just nine months as the head of research and development at Audi.
Under Winkelmann’s watch, Audi’s performance division was reorganised and renamed from its previous title, Audi Quattro GmbH, to Audi Sport. Winkelmann oversaw the launch of the Audi R8 Spyder and RS5 Coupé. He has also overseen development of the upcoming rear-wheel-drive R8 and RS4 Avant.
Winkelmann’s initial priorities at Bugatti will include the development and introduction of further deriviativies of the Chiron, including the rumoured Chiron Grand Sport and Chiron Super Sport.
Meanwhile, Autocar can confirm that Stephen Reil is also set to depart Audi Sport on 1 October. The popular and respected engineer, who has traditionally overseen the development of Audi Sport (née quattro) models, was appointed general manager of Audi’s performance car division in 2011.
The Volkswagen Group management changes are expected to be made official at the Frankfurt motor show.