Audi has won 10 of the past twelve Le Mans 24 Hour races – and, so associated are they with winning the big race, I’ll give a small pat on the back to anybody who can name the two interlopers without resorting to Wikipedia.
That’s an extraordinary run of success, but one that is less of a surprise to double race winner (once in a Porsche, once in an Audi) Allan McNish than most. With unrivalled insight into how the team works, he reckons its success is only natural.
“Audi is engineering led, and that makes a difference,” says McNish. “Audi Sport lives in the R&D section of Audi, not marketing, which is not the case for many other manufacturers involved in motorsport.
“To give an illustration of what that really means, when I joined Audi I got the shock of my life when I walked in the garage in the middle of the night and found all the board members stood there, studying the telemetry. Motorsport is that ingrained in the company. The bosses at other manufacturers I’ve raced for would turn up, watch for an hour, have dinner and a glass of champagne and leave before the end. At Audi they live it.
“The vast majority of the board at Audi is made up of doctors of engineering, and they see motorsport as a way of developing new ideas fast – that’s why the hybrid system on our car this year is so relevant. It’s the culture of the company – on the road car side, long before the styling side took off, Audi was led by engineering principles. The styling may have caught up, but engineering is still core.