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Von Moltke Exploring Next Step After Audi Exit

Dion Von Moltke on DTM, Thunderhill and not renewed by Audi for 2017…

Photo: John Dagys

Photo: John Dagys

Despite recently completing a DTM test in Spain and winning the 25 Hours of Thunderhill outright, Dion von Moltke’s next career step looks unclear with his Audi contract coming to an end.

For 2016, the 26-year-old has served as Brand Ambassador for Audi of America, following several seasons successfully competing in Audi sports cars in the U.S.

However, due to budget cuts as a result of the ongoing Volkswagen emissions scandal, von Moltke’s contract has not been renewed into 2017, leaving the Pirelli World Challenge SprintX champion with an uncertain future.

“At this point, it’s highly unlikely that I will be back with Audi in an official role next year,” von Moltke told Sportscar365.

“It was an opportunity for me to show that I have what it takes to represent a manufacturer both on and off the track, which is what every driver aspires to and it’s something that I hope to do very soon in the future again.

“I’ve developed relationships with a brand that is very dear to my heart. The cars that they have built are incredible to race and I hope to continue racing them.”

Despite this, von Moltke has enjoyed a positive end to the 2016 season, with the DTM test followed by the Thunderhill win.

“That was an incredible experience,” he said of the test. “The DTM cars, I don’t think the TV does justice to how quick they are. It’s a completely different world than a GT3 car.

“It was kind of out-of-the-blue, but a big honor to be invited out by Audi Sport. I’ve been driving in Audis for the last five seasons here out in the U.S., and I officially joined them this year as their Brand Ambassador for Audi of America.

“I met Dieter Gass, and some people high up in Audi Sport, and tried to just introduce myself and put my face in front of them, so when they saw my name the knew who I was.

“I remained a little bit in contact with them this year, I guess through winning the Pro championship in SprintX, and jumping from Audi team to Audi team.

“In the U.S., I drove for every team that bought a new Audi and I drove all four of the new Audis that were sold this year, which was kind of a cool honor, for sure.”

Along with LMP1 regular Loic Duval and fellow young drivers Kelvin van der Linde and Nyck de Vries, von Moltke was able to test the Audi RS 5 DTM for around 40 laps around Circuito de Jerez in Spain, an experience he thoroughly enjoyed.

“It’s quite a difficult thing coming from GT experience and not having open-wheel experience because they way the DTM car works, with the extremely high downforce, it’s much closer to the open-wheel style of driving, just with the roof over it, than a GT car,” he said.

“But man, those cars are mega. They’re really, really quick. Just to be able to work a little bit in the factory-style atmosphere at Audi Sport, you definitely learn quickly why they’re so successful.

“It’s an atmosphere that’s really enjoyable and something special to be able to work in.”

A few days after the DTM test, von Moltke headed to California to return to Flying Lizard Motorsports at Thunderhill, racing in the Audi R8 LMS ultra he knows so well.

“For me, Thunderhill was quite special,” he said. “I’ve raced there twice before and was never really able to do much. [It] was really special because some of my fondest memories driving were with my days with Flying Lizard. 

“It’s very much a family atmosphere, and many of the guys I worked with are still there and were working with me again. It felt like home, right away, to be honest.

“In the race, everyone just focused on ourselves, which is one of the hardest things to do but also one of the most important things to do in endurance racing. We didn’t have the speed to go out and win outright purely on pace, and we knew we would need a little bit of luck and to make sure we stayed out of trouble.

Mentally, it’s an extremely difficult race to deal with, and everyone did a fantastic job.”

Von Moltke doesn’t yet have any plans for next year but he is looking for rides in several series, rather than restricting himself solely to the U.S. national series.

At this point, I’m still battling hard to try and find an [Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup] ride in IMSA,” he explained. “Also, I’m trying very hard to find a ride in SprintX again for PWC.

“In Europe, I’m also trying to find opportunities, especially as I’m a Silver-rated driver, in the Blancpain Endurance Cup or GT Masters.

“As well, I’m also trying to talk to some teams in the Asian Le Mans Series. I’m trying to spread my network as far as possible.

“I’m trying to use the momentum from the Thunderhill win. I haven’t raced much in Europe but I know I can do the job there.”

Rather than seeing his Audi contract drawing to a close as a hinderance in his career path progression, von Moltke is instead excited for new opportunities opening up.

“I’m hoping that the typical ‘one door closes, another one opens’ remains true,” he said. “It definitely opens up opportunities that weren’t there before.

“As a driver, you always want to align yourself with a manufacturer, and the fact that I was able to do that was fantastic and something I would love to do again, but if you look at it another way, it also opens up a lot of doors that weren’t open before.

“You’ve just got to look at it the right way and hope the timing’s right.”

Jake Kilshaw is a UK-based journalist focusing on European series for Sportscar365. Kilshaw was the founder of WorldSportsCar.co.uk and is a member of the Autosport Academy. Contact Jake

6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. James Willock

    December 19, 2016 at 10:28 am

    He’s a decent guy, and deserves a ride. He’ll find one!

  2. Nate B

    December 19, 2016 at 12:01 pm

    Dion has a pretty solid resume and always comes across like a really genuine guy. Hopefully someone takes advantage and books him for a few rides this year.

  3. N8

    December 19, 2016 at 12:27 pm

    Good to hear that DTM cars are fun to drive, because the racing is mind-numbing to watch.

  4. KW

    December 19, 2016 at 12:40 pm

    Audi shows very little management skills when it comes to “outplacing” drivers who have shown a lot of engagement for the company in the past, see also Stephane Ortelli and Timo Scheider. I hope he will find a good drive, maybe in a Blancpain GT car?

  5. Mike S.

    December 19, 2016 at 2:02 pm

    He will get a ride. He has been solid and he’s only 26.

  6. Anthony Blair Thomas

    December 20, 2016 at 5:30 pm

    @KW WTF?

    This is a results based business.

    When was the last time Scheider won anything with the same equipment that others have won championships and races with?

    Ortelli I’m afraid is age related. I’d also dare to say he’s lost a bit of pace too.

    In Blancpain that’s relative because there are people that want to call themselves “professional” drivers that are much slower in average lap times than Ortelli in inferior equipment.

    With sports in general you must win or they will look for a replacement. If they think it’s coaching they’ll fire the coach, which is the case most of the time.

    That’s is a perfect analogy for AJR.

    Instead of breaking alliances with Porsche when your check writer was struggling with the new car, he said look over at the other car with Mario Farncher who as a teenager was a broken shifter away from winning Le Mans in a Porsche and Porsche Super Cup Champion.

    So people with thousands of race miles on different tracks and in different conditions have an advantage over a college student and somebody slightly faster than him?

    The outcome was predictable.

    So AJR without major backing is unlikely to return because Porsche now has an LMP-1 program it must fund. Otherwise he would do what he did with Grand Am in DP; IE Porsche funded much of that effort. NASCAR helped him get Ruby Tues sponsorship.

    The fundamental question is and will remain so until well drver-less cars –

    Do we need all these long distance races? If we do, can those four or five races be the season?

    Blancplain Endurance has five races and continues to grow in importance to the manufacturers.

    Actually WeatherTech is the ideal mix of events, the unfortunate thing is that it’s expensive.

    But it draws more fans than WEC and Blancpain do COMBINED.

    Just be lucky they haven’t pushed the additional cost on to the fan much like NASCAR, NBA, MLB and NFL have done. NHL is a different story, it’s very much a regional sport with the desire to become a national sport.

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