Stephan Winkelmann will leave Audi later this year to replace Wolfgang Dürheimer at the helm of Bugatti
31 August 2017

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.

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.

Related stories: 

Audi RS3 review 

Bentley Continental GT revealed

Bugatti Veyron review 

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Comments
7

31 August 2017

Nevewr trusted you.

31 August 2017
avantus wrote:

Nevewr trusted you.

Curious, who did you not trust?

de_design2  l  Exclusively Bespoke®

31 August 2017

Why is Stephan leaving when he has just begun rolling out Audisome sports and super sports cars? He is a great leader fit to lead a sporting car marque such as Audi Sport. Had he stayed on, I'm sure there will be more emotionally-styled and engineered cars such as the RS5, R8 variants, RS4, RS6, etc. 

de_design2  l  Exclusively Bespoke®

5 September 2017

Well, if the RS5 is anything to by Winkelmann can't get out soon enough. He'll be happier at blingtastic Bugatti with its billionaire client-base. And now we've got 'Ex-retail Renz' in charge of a group that's ditched its 'Quattro' moniker for 'Sport' because being 'sporty' is a real USP for Audi and no other brand, right ?.....  I wonder what products we are going to get: more fabulously well-built and one-dimensional RS cars...I fear ?

BertoniBertone

19 September 2017

 

Let's hope so. Even though as i've heard the could have another Royal (Galibier) on there way aswell as a new Chiron replacement?

 

 

Cheers!

/EX

21 September 2017

I too prefer the old moniker Quattro,as it evokes happy memories of the original rally cars of the 80's.Recently was at an Audi Sport gathering where we  could drive the new cars available and it was very good.My wife wants to trade her BMW for an RS3!! Lovely though the wail of the V10 is, a more affordable R8 would be nice with the V6.WInkelmann was adamant in interviews that would "never happen"though leaked Audi timelines have mentioned it.Perhaps he was not following company policy so was moved on.Just wondering??

 

Madmac

29 September 2017

Aren't they the same thing? he is not actually leaving "anything" is he and anyway who really cares about VW's internal employment arrangements. In any case this a company that equates sporty with acceleration, engine power and nothing much else.

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