Nikolaus 'Niki' Mayr-Melnhof
- November 09, 1978
- Erc – European Rally Championship
Niki Mayr-Melnhof is an Austrian racing driver who spent most of his career in the sports car racing, with third place in the 2013 FIA GT Series as his greatest achievement. In recent time, Mayr-Melnhhof is more focused on rallying and he won the Austrian Rally Championship in 2018.
Starting a racing career in Nurburgring 24 Hours race
Born in November 1978 in Leoben in central Austria, Nikolaus 'Niki' Mayr-Melhnof started his racing career relatively late, in 2007. In June 2007, he participated in the Nurburgring 24 Hours, driving a Ford Focus in the SP4T class.
Next year, Niki entered European GT4 Cup with Jetalliance team, driving the Aston Martin V8 Vantage N24. Sharing a car with Thomas Jakoubek and Klaus Engelhorn, he scored two wins in nine races to finish ninth in the final points.
Driving BMW, Maserati and Audi in 2010
Not racing in 2009, Mayr-Melnhof joined Team S-Berg Racing in 2010 to drive a BMW Alpina B6 GT3 in the FIA GT3 European Championship. He participated in six races, sharing a car with Martin Matzke.
In the same season, he participated in one round of the FIA GT1 Championship, driving a Maserati MC12 for Hegersport, but also in one races of the 24H Series with Lechner Racing's Audi R8 LMS.
Joining Reiter Engineering in 2011
For the 2011 season, Mayr-Melhof joined Reiter Engineering, participating full season in the FIA GT3 European Championship in a Lamborghini Gallardo (LP600+ or LM560) but also driving a Gallardo in three rounds of the Blancpain Endurance Series.
His partner in the GT3 European Championship was Albert von Thurn und Taxis. Scoring two wins, they finished 8th in the final standings. In the Blancpain Endurance Series, the third driver was Eugenio Amos. At Spa 24 Hours, they retired due to an accident.
Competing with BMW in 2012
In the final round of the 2011 Blancpain Endurance Series, Mayr-Melhnof joined Marc VDS Racing Team to drive a BMW Alpine B6 GT3 at Silverstone. For the 2012 season, he completely switched to BMW by joining the Vita4One Racing Team in the FIA GT1 World Championship. His partner in the #17 BMW Z4 GT3 was Mathias Lauda.
Scoring two podiums in 18 races, they finished 12th in the final standings. Mayr-Melnhof was also on a podium in the non-championship City Challenge Baku, ending in the third place in a BMW he was sharing with Yelmer Buurman.
Third place in the FIA GT Series with Audi
One more change of manufacturer followed in 2013, when Mayr-Melnhof spent a full season with Belgian Audi Club Team WRT, driving an Audi R8 LMS in the Blancpain Endurance Series and in the FIA GT Series (today it's the Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup).
His partners in the FIA GT Series were Rene Rast and Oliver Jarvis (one race). They scored one victory and five podiums in the #12 Audi. Niki ended a season third in the points, behind Audi teammates. He wasn't so successful in the Blancpain Endurance Series, scoring no wins or podiums. At Spa 24 Hours, he was sharing the #0 Audi with Rahel Frey and Matt Halliday. They didn't finish the race.
Three seasons with Phoenix Racing
In 2014, the FIA GT Series has been renamed to Blancpain Sprint Series. Mayr-Melnhof stayed with Audi, joining Phoenix Racing to drive the #6 Audi R8 LMS alongside Markus Winkelhock. They were on a podium two times, finishing 11th in the final standings.
In January 2015, Mayr-Melhnof made a debut at Daytona 24 Hours with Muehlner Motorsports, driving a Porsche 911 GT America, but Blancpain Sprint Series remained his main competition. Still sharing the #6 Audi with Markus Winkelhock, he was on a podium three times to finish 9th in the points. Outside Blancpain Sprint Series, he achieved a notable result at Sepang 12 Hours, finishing in the third place together with Markus Winkelhock and Nicki Thiim.
In 2016, Mayr-Melhnof stayed with Phoenix Racing in the Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup, for the third year in a row sharing the #6 Audi with Markus Winkelhock. Scoring no points, they were out of classification.
Slowing down GT racing activities in 2017
In 2017, Mayr-Melnhof slowed down his GT racing activities, participating in just three rounds of the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup with Team WRT – Monza, Silverstone and Spa.
New career in rallying, champion in 2018
The reason why Niki slowed down his GT racing activities is a progression in his rallying career. He tried rally car for the first time back in 2006, participating in the Bruckneudorf Rallysprint with Stohl Racing's Subaru Impreza STi. Three years later, he returned to the same race in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX, owned by Beppo Harrach's Driftcompany Rally School.
In November 2015, Mayr-Melnhof participated in the International Rally Waldviertel, the last round of the Austrian Rally Championship, driving a Ford Fiesta R5. In 2016, he participated in six events of the Austrian Rally Championship with Fiesta R5, scoring one podium to finish fifth in the points. In 2017, his first rally victory came in the Croatian Rally Championship in March and then in the Austrian Schneebergland Rallye in June. He finished third in the national championship.
In 2018, he finally reached the top in rallying. Driving a Ford Fiesta R5, he won four times in the Austrian Rally Championship and took the championship title.