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Chris Reinke on racing and the new R18

INGOLSTADT, Germany — You might say that Chris Reinke is “Living the dream” — his dream. Ever since he was six years old he has dreamed of building world’s best cars. Today he is the head of the LMP program for Audi and on Saturday the 2014 version of the Audi R18 e-tron quattro, a car that Reinke has had responsbility for developing, will defend the Le Mans and WEC championship that it won in 2013.

In the ultimate test of endurance and speed, the R18 will do battle on the Circuit de la Sarthe beginning on Saturday for the 2014 version of the 24 hours of Le Mans, along with WEC series leader Toyota, and Porsche, that returns to Le Mans in the LMP category after a 16 year hiatus.

With his focus on building race cars Reinke’s education has been a mix of formal learning punctuated by a series of real world opportunities in racing. He earned a degree in automotive engineering from university in Germany, but the route to graduation was not a straight line.

In 1995 he had the opportunity to assist mechanics and work with Reeves Callaway on a Corvette that was being prepared for Le Mans.

It was a six month sojourn from academia that was Reinke’s first foray into racing as an engineer and as a part of the team got him to Le Mans for the first time as a crew memeber. The car, a Corvette that was entered in the GT2 class, qualified first in its class and finished third in the class and 11th overall.

Today, Reinke lists Callaway Competition as providing inspiration and along the way mentorship for him to reach his goal. “They gave me the possibility and that’s where it all started — it was the first step into the motorsport world.

“I only did a summer job with Reeve in Old Lyme, Connecticut. He said ‘ We are about to build a Le Mans car at Callaway Competition in Leingarten (Germany), can you come and give us a hand’.

“I said ok. If I get asked for that I might as well stop my studies for half a year. That was my first time to work on a race car and I had the probability to be in Le Mans, to be on the pit lane, to smell the gasoline. I guess that had a lot to do with my affection, with my dedication to Audi,” he said.

After earning his degree in automotive engineering, Reinke realized that he was not enough of a specialist to make it big in the racing industry and took another degree from Plymouth University in the United Kingdom in composite engineering.

Reinke then had the opportunity to work with the Toyota Formula One project where he eventually was eventually in charge of the monocoque.  Reinke wanted to be more involved in the total preparation of the car and so, in his own words, he took a step back to re-stage himself.

That led to a number of freelance jobs, one working on an Indy Car project for Dallara where he was also to find the Audi TT DTM car in the wind tunnel. One thing led to another and soon Reinke was working with Audi. Since 2007 he has been involved with the Audi Diesel project, starting with the R10. Last year he was put in overall charge of the LMP project.

In this role Reinke has realized his dream of building a total car. The responsibilities are immense as he has charge for defining the specifications for the race car both in terms of building a winning racer and integrating the branding and marketing requirements from Audi. In this role he also has budget responsibilities (and keep in mind that the budget for this kind of an endeavor we are talking about “cubic dollars”). Additionally, in this role, Reinke is the team liaison with the sanctioning bodies of the series, the FIA and the ACO.

The last two years have been exactly what Reinke has prepared his whole life for as the Audi team have had to take their successful R18 e-tron quattro and re-engineer it to meet the new rules that are in place for the FIA World Endurance Series which will see competitors using up to 30 percent less fuel but going just as fast.

On Monday afternoon (June 9) the Audi team will go through scrutineering before the week at the Circuit de la Sarthe begins in earnest.
We were able to catch up Reinke prior the start of the Le Mans speed week and here is his view on the new Audi racer.

Chris, can you tell us a little about your pathway to becoming the head of the LMP program at Audi. Specifically, where did you go to school and what did you study. How did you wind up in racing?
To wind up in racing was an earlier dream of my childhood where I was kind of infected following an annual vintage race in my hometown. Following my studies of Automotive Engineering at the University of Applied Science in Ulm, GER I took a second degree in Composite Material Engineering at the University of Plymouth, GB. During this period I actually “served” my first Le Mans race in 1995 as a mechanic within Callaway Competition’s GT program. Starting my professional career in the Formula 1 project of Toyota in 1999, I joined Audi’s DTM program in 2002 to transfer to the LMP squad from 2005 onwards, taking the position of the Technical Project Manager in 2008. 2013 eventually I was appointed the Head of LMP.

I am sure that you have been thinking about the development of the new car for some time. Can you give us an idea of how the development cycle with the car works. And specifically what is your part in the process.

In general, we have an established process for developing new cars at Audi Sport. Our work with the 2014 Audi R18 e-tron quattro did start in 2012 already. First, you begin with a concept before you actually start designing the car. Each part of the latest car is an all-new design due to the new set of regulations. Literally nothing has been carried over from the previous car. As Head of the LMP project, my part is to oversee the procedures in place, to co-ordinate between all departments and to make sure we develop a competitive racer within our budgeted boundaries before it hits the track in anger in April 2014 at Silverstone for the first WEC race.

This year your “friends” at Porsche come back to the LMP fight. How difficult is it to be competitive with a team this is actually a part of your global company, for which it appears some of the technology has been used in the development of R18 e-tron quattro?

For Audi, Porsche is a competitor like all the other opponents as well. The reason is very simple: At the end of the day, you need to beat the opposition on the track. The timing sheets at the end of the race are the only things that count if you want to become a World Champion. As for the technology: We have developed a completely new race car, and Porsche had to start from scratch anyway, so there’s certainly no transfer. The only technology transfer is within Audi: between the our race cars and our road cars. That’s what we have been doing for more than 30 years now, beginning with the legendary Audi quattro in the 1980s.

The new rules that the ACO / FIA will indoctrinate for the series in 2014 will pay dividends to those who can go fast, and be fuel efficient. For the 24 hours of Le Mans and for the WEC series there is also an element of endurance that must be accounted for. What other areas will there be changes or improvements in the new car, given that the design of any vehicle is a series of trade-offs.

The idea behind efficiency is that energy is limited to a certain amount per lap. So if you are efficient, you use the same amount of energy like the others, but you are faster than they are. Speed and durability are the prerequisites to be competitive, but in addition, you need to be even more efficient than last year. All areas of the car are affected by changes. The new rules have so many implications regarding efficiency and safety that it’s an all-new car.

The decision making for the new car design is driven we assume by a number of factors. Certainly that is collected during testing and races for the last decade or so is important. What other areas of “knowledge” that help in the design decision making. Is there a balance between explicit data and implicit intuition in the decision-making process
Explicit data are one aspect, tools of analysis and simulation play another important part. Intuition is extremely important as the LMP rules allow for greater freedom in many areas when compared to other vehicle categories in motorsport. Don’t forget: we are allowed to build two or four-wheel drive cars, petrol or diesel engines, one or two hybrid systems etc.

How data driven is the development process. By that we mean: Audi obviously has collected a great deal of data over the last 15 years from the various races. Is this data used to develop the basic “model” for the new car or is there also input into the design based on the “human intuition” of engineers and drivers?
We have collected many data, but with every new generation of car, the data change as well. Of course this helps to define a basic concept, but simulation is very important as well. Every engineer brings his education, his ideas and his experience with him, so their ideas are crucial for progress as well.

From the latest release about the car, it sounds as if the new design is significantly more complex, particularly with respect to the drive system. It is our experience that as complexity of a system is increased, it puts a greater cognitive load on the end user. That seems to indicate that the new car will be even more highly computer controlled than ever. Is that correct? And if so, will there be any ability for the driver to be able to override the computer control of the car?
Any complex car needs a form of control systems, and electronics in motorsport are not new. Of course, a driver is always in control of the car. He will certainly not lap the Le Mans circuit radio-controlled by our engineers. In fact, already now, the driver uses software to gain the best support, beginning with different engine or traction control mappings up to a lap and split timer that helps him adjusting his speed etc. In the future, this will be even more complex. And already now, software supports the drivers in various ways similar to driver-aid applications to be experienced in any Audi road car

The most recent release from Audi indicated that this car would also be designated R18. Is there a specific reason that this car is not getting a new designation?
Already three years ago when the first R18 TDI has been launched, Audi Sport has announced that there is a change in its designation system. Audi Sport now follows the path of the road car designation where the car model names (A3, A4 etc.) are kept through the different vehicle generations since the 1990s. That’s why the LMP sports cars have been called R18 since 2011.


Allan McNish retires

INGOLDSTADT, Germany — Allan McNish, one of the most talented drivers ever to “wear” an Audi sports car announced that he is retiring from the world of sports car racing, after a dream season in which he, along with teammates Tom Kristensen and Loic Duvall, won the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the FIA World Endurance Championship this past season.

McNish, a crowd favorite, known for his tenacious driving style and the tartan scarf that was painted on to his helmet,  will remain in close contact with Audi Sport and contribute his knowledge. “We appreciate and respect Allan’s decision to retire at the pinnacle of his career,” says Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. “At the same time, this is a parting that is particularly difficult for us. All of us are well aware of Allan’s racing successes. We should not forget, though, how valuable he has been in the development of our race cars, how great a team player he has always been and how he has consistently applied himself to achieve Audi’s aims far beyond motorsport with professionalism, loyalty and commitment. We regret that Allan will no longer be contesting any races for us but are happy that he will continue to be associated with Audi Sport and the Audi brand.”

McNish achieved many of his greatest victories since the 2000 season with Audi – most recently, the first World Championship title in his career at the wheel of the Audi R18 e-tron quattro. “I found the ideal moment for myself to bring an end to my LMP sports-prototype racing with Audi,” says McNish. “Together with my team-mates Tom Kristensen and Loïc Duval I finished my most successful season in the sports car. Having also won the Le Mans 24 Hours, I can’t wish for more than what we’ve achieved this year. I can look back on a fantastic career that has left no aims unfinished and I’m looking forward to new challenges the future holds for me. Now I’ll have a lot more time for my family. But I’m going to continue to be part of motorsport in various roles, albeit no longer as an Audi race driver.”

The Scotsman began his very successful racing career 32 years ago in karting. In the 2000 season, Allan McNish in the Audi R8 won the American Le Mans Series for the first time. In 2006 and 2007, in the Audi R10 TDI, he again celebrated title wins in the North American sports car series. Four overall victories in the Sebring 12 Hours complement his track record in North America. Two of his three successes in the Le Mans 24 Hours he celebrated with Audi in 2008 and 2013. The early title win in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) at Shanghai (China) five weeks ago marked the pinnacle of the Scotsman’s career, who had initially pursed a classic career in formula racing.

McNish, along with co-drivers Stephane Ortelli and Laurent Aiello, won his first 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1998 driving a Porsche 911 GT-1-98. Ironically, in the year that McNish retires from the seat of the R18 e-tron quattro, Porsche returns the 24 Hours of Le Mans, where it will unveil a new car and compete in the WEC series against the McNish’s R18.

Except for the years of 2001 to 2003, when the racing pro with the physique of a jockey was active in Formula 1 as a test and race driver, he  has raced for the four rings since 2000. He almost exclusively drove the company’s sports cars and in 2005 he was also active in the DTM series. He is the only driver to have raced all sports cars ever made in Ingolstadt and Neckarsulm, from the Audi R8R to the R8, R10 TDI, R15 TDI, R18 TDI models and the R18 ultra through to the R18 e-tron quattro. He has recorded 29 overall victories, 18 pole positions, 17 fastest race laps and four title wins in eleven years, which makes him one of the most successful Audi sports car drivers. “Of course, we’re going to miss Allan in our driver line-up extremely,” says Chris Reinke, Project Manager LMP at Audi Sport. “But it’s typical of Allan that he’s also found a perfect point in time to end his career.”


2014 Calendar features Le Mans images from TRT

NORTH BEND, WA — Just released from Paul Oxman publishing (and picture editor Paul Webb) is the World Racing 2014 calendar featuring images from Tertre Rouge Times writers and photographers Rusty and Joe Rae, as well as images from the major motoracing venues of the world.

The calendar features 15 11 x 17 images, each which is suitable to be framed, along with a passel of ancillary photos for each month.

The calendar is available online at,7653.html?b=d*17590 . There are also a number of other gift ideas at the site including Christmas cards, notepads, and calendars from other racing venues (motorcycle racing, dirt track racing, etc.)


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