Today’s FIA WEC Six Hours of Nürburgring marks a new chapter for Stefan Dreyer, as the longtime Audi Sport employee embarks on his first race as Head of LMP, completing a management restructuring within the German manufacturer’s motorsports activities.
Dreyer, who has spent the last 17 years at Audi’s engine department, both with its LMP and DTM race programs, takes over as boss of the factory LMP1 program from Chris Reinke, who shifted to the head of Audi Sport customer racing earlier this year.
While having served as Head of Operations LMP Engines through last month’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, Dreyer took up his new position on July 1 and is ready for his next challenge.
“The transition has been for three weeks,” he told Sportscar365. “For sure they were tough but in the end, it will take more time to get into it.
“As of now, it’s positive. I’m having fun; that’s the most important thing, but there are quite some things to do.”
Dreyer has wasted no time in getting up to speed in his new role, particularly after a challenging Le Mans for the manufacturer, which saw its pair of Audi R18s struggle for pace and battle reliability issues.
While the No. 8 car of Loic Duval, Lucas Di Grassi and Oliver Jarvis scored a podium finish, it came after multiple trips to the garage with brake issues.
Turbo failure, meanwhile, set the No. 7 Audi back early in the running but rebounded to finish fourth, benefiting from attrition by the other factory LMP1 hybrids.
“It was not one of the best races, that’s for sure,” Dreyer said. “We had many, many problems. The analysis is still ongoing. We have a lot to analyze.
“One thing is the performance, one thing is the reliability. I think it’s true that we’re not happy with our performance so it’s even more important to understand what happened and to solve the problems.
“That’s Le Mans. It punishes you for everything. It can be hard… In the end it happened and we have to make sure it won’t happen again.”
Audi, however, has rebounded nicely this weekend at the Nürburgring, showing a return to form and a sweep of the front row for this afternoon’s fourth round of the FIA World Endurance Championship.
The debut of its new high-downforce aero kit, as well as further development to the new-for-2016 LMP1 hybrid, which is competing in the 6MJ hybrid subclass for the first time, has put Audi back in the fight.
While Dreyer is optimistic about their chances for the remainder of the season, he’s also looking to helping steer the long-term success of the LMP1 program, while knowing first-hand its legacy in the sport.
Having been at Audi since the start of its LMP program in 1999, the German feels he’s up for the task.
“One big benefit is the experience I have,” he said. “In terms of new directions, we have to go for new directions. They have to be defined and we have to take it step by step.
“But the biggest advantage is to know the whole department, how the processes are, how the people work.
“I know the people personally, I know Team Joest and I think that’s one of the major benefits and that’s also one advantage Chris [Reinke] had also why Dr. Ullrich went this route.”