Audi has been a force in international racing since 1981. Whether it’s Le Mans, DMT, or more recently, the Formula E, Audi has had many successful drivers winning some of the most prestigious races in the world under their name. Today, we will talk about some of the greatest Audi racing drivers.
Lucas di Grassi (Audi/Formula E Champion)
Lucas di Grassi is a Brazilian racing driver currently representing Audi in the Formula E Championship. He was born in Sao Paulo and began car racing in 2002. He quickly progressed through the ranks and even raced in the Formula 1 in 2010, but he was dropped soon after. He was then employed by Pirelli as a tyre tester, developing the company’s next generation of tyres. Di Grassi has been involved with Audi since 2012, both in the WEC and since 2014, the Formula E.
He is not only one of Audi’s best drivers, but he is already a Formula E icon, as he is one of the best drivers in its short history, winning the championship in the 2016-17 season. He has 30 podiums, of which 10 are wins, in 58 races thus far. He is also the first winner of a Formula E race, after winning in Beijing in 2014. He went on to win five more podiums but ultimately failed to win the championship.
After coming very close the previous year, di Grossi’s first championship in the Formula E came in the 2016-17 season. On 6 December, Lucas was named the Brazilian Driver of the Year by readers of Grande Premio.
Michele Mouton (Audi/Rally winner, first female rally race winner)
Michele Mouton is a French female former rally driver. She competed in the WRC for the Audi team, winning four races. To this day, she is the last woman driver to compete in top level rallying. Despite also driving for Fiat and Peugeot, her best years came with the Audi Sport team. She was with Fiat until in 1980, to her great surprise, she was contacted by Audi ahead of other established male drivers, which attracted a lot of publicity.
Known for her fierce attitude and amazing skill behind the steering wheel, Mouton was a true pioneer in the racing world and was one of the few drivers that was able to control the monstrous Quattros at insane speeds and in front of crazed fans. She became the first woman to ever win a WRC event in Sanremo 1981. She went on to have a very successful career with the Audi team until Group B was banned in 1985, after which she decided to end her rallying career.
She is currently the FIA manager in the World Rally Championship.
Stig Blomqvist (Audi/Rally champion)
Stig Lennart Blomqvist is a Swedish rally driver. With the Audy factory team and the Audi Quattro, he won the World Rally Championship in 1984 and finished second in the following year. Stig’s story with the Audi Sport team started in 1982 after Audi signed him to drive the Quattro in a few events alongside legendary drivers Michele Mouton and Hannu Mikkola. He achieved his first WRC victory by winning the Sanremo rally in 1982, after which Audi signed him as their third regular driver for the following season. Blomqvist finished the season in fourth place.
In 1984, he became the second Swedish world champion, after winning five, and finishing second in the Monte Carlo Rally driving the Quattro A2 and Quattro sport evolutions. His last season with the Audi team was in 1985, finishing second behind Timo Salonen.
He currently lives in the UK, and his son Tom has followed in his footsteps, becoming the youngest ever Formula Renault UK winner when he was 16 in 2010.
Hannu Mikkola (Audi/Rally champion)
Hannu Mikkola is a Finnish retired rally driver and world champion. His 31 year long career started in 1963 with a Volvo PV544, but his best years came in the 70s and 80s when he was competing for Ford and Audi. He joined the Audi factory team in 1981 to drive the legendary Audi Quattro, after finishing second the previous year driving for Ford.
He was very solid over the next two years, finishing third and then second, and in 1983, it was time for Hannu to finally show what he’s capable of. With four wins and three second place finishes, Hannu and his co-driver Arne Hertz finally took home the World Rally Championship.
The following year, he finished second behind teammate Stig Blomqvist. The beginning of the end for his partnership with Audi came in the following season, when he only competed in four rallies, slipping to 22nd in the final rankings after being overwhelmed by new Group B competition from Lancia and Peugeot. After the 1987 season and a win in the Safari Rally, he switched to Mazda.
In 2011, Mikkola was inducted into the Rally Hall of Fame.
Emanuele Pirro (Audi/Le Mans champions)
Emanuele Pirro is an Italian retired race driver that has competed in the Formula 1, touring cars and in endurance races such as 24 Hours of Le Mans, which he has won a total of five times, becoming a legend of the race and the Audi team.
He made his debut in endurance racing at the age of 19, winning at the 24 Hours of Daytona and the Kyalami 9 Hours races. He raced with a Nissan, Porsche and McLaren F1, before switching to the newly revealed Audi R8R in 1999. With this car, he scored his first of nine consecutive podiums in the French classic. He also drove the Audi R8 with great success, and in 2006, he became the first driver to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans with a diesel car, which he also accomplished the following year. Over the span of 9 years from 1999 to 2008, he won 5 24 Hours of Le Mans, 2 ALMS Championships, 3 Petit Le Mans and 2 12 Hours of Sebring.
After retiring, he currently holds various positions within the racing world, and he regularly competes in historic racing.