Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich says he wants to ‘lend his support’ to endurance racing in his new role with the Automobile Club de l’Ouest, particularly in helping shape future regulations.
The longtime Head of Audi Motorsport was confirmed last week as a special advisor to the ACO, where he’ll work alongside President Pierre Fillon and FIA World Endurance Championship CEO Gerard Neveu, among others, in providing input on sporting, marketing and technical decisions.
Ullrich, who led the German manufacturer to 13 overall victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, said it was his passion for endurance racing and personal relationships within the organization that contributed to his decision to come out of retirement for the new role.
“We met twice, we talked a lot and I confess that the idea interested me,” Ullrich told Endurance-Info. “I accepted for two reasons. First, endurance [racing] is something very special in motorsports. I am willing to lend my support to this category.
“Another very important thing is the people with whom I have a very good relationship for a long time. Even when I was on the other side of the table of discussions, as a competitor, I always enjoyed our relationship.
“When I made that decision, it was important to work with people I like personally. This collaboration will take a different dimension through this agreement.
“As I already stated, I am proud and excited to bring the stamina that brought me [here] as a participant.”
Despite considerable changes in the last 18 months, with the departure of both Audi and Porsche from top-level prototype competition, Ullrich believes endurance racing is still a strong pillar of the motorsports scene.
The Austrian had been a driving force for Audi’s involvement at Le Mans from the start in 1999, which expanded to participation in nearly all of the ACO-backed championships at various stages, up until its withdrawal from WEC competition in 2016.
“I think endurance [racing] is everything that motorsport can offer,” Ullrich said. “The 24 Hours of Le Mans, but also all the races of six [hours], have become genuine sprint [races].
“I like it because the team is at the heart of victory. Car technology, its preparation and development… If the team has done a good job, they will be competitive in the end.
“For me, it’s the idea of sport and in particular that of motorsport, that I love to be part of.”
Ullrich said his focus will largely be on helping develop future regulations, including the planned overhaul in LMP1 for 2020/21, as well as taking an overall look at endurance racing in general.
“I think I’ll use the contacts I have with manufacturers to discuss my ideas [with them],” he said. “What can we do to create a positive future? This is the question we must answer.
“At the same time, I must also be close to the people who work within the ACO and put the regulations on foot. I hope they will be interested in my ideas and they could [maybe] use one or two [of my ideas] at the time of its creation.”
Laurent Mercier contributed to this report