Joest Racing - the most successful private team in the Le Mans history
Audi’s withdrawal from FIA World Endurance Championship at the end of the 2016 season is marking the end of an era in which the German manufacturer became one of the most successful participants in the world’s premier league of sports car racing, including 24 hours of Le Mans. It is also the end of one era in the life of Joest Racing, the most successful private team in Le Mans history, with fifteen overall wins at the world’s greatest endurance race.
The partnership between Audi Sport and Joest Racing is one of the most successful collaborations in the history of motorsports. But, Joest Racing is not only Audi, Joest Racing is much, much more… Besides fifteen Le Mans wins (eleven with Audi and four with Porsche), Joest Racing also recorded numerous wins in other endurance classics (Daytona, Sebring, Nurburgring…) and many championship titles in the sports car racing, but also added victories in the touring car and GT car races.
Reinhold Joest founded the team in 1978
The Joest Racing team was established in 1978 by the former Porsche racer Reinhold Joest. It was the year in which he scored the third place overall at Le Mans, sharing the Martini Racing’s Porsche 936 with Hurley Haywood and Peter Gregg. The same year, Joest became the European Sportscar Champion and he decided to become the team owner. Of course, he continued to race with Porsches.
Besides Joest, the first drivers in his team were Rolf Stommelen and Volkert Merl. All three competed together at the 1980 Daytona 24h and scored the overall victory, the first major win for a young German team. Later that year, Joest won another endurance classic, the 1000 km of Nürburgring, together with Rolf Stommelen and Jürgen Barth in a Porsche 908/3 Turbo.
Reinhold victorious in his last race
In 1981, Joest Racing was using the spectacular version of the Porsche 935, nicknamed the Moby Dick because it was so wide and flat. The 1981 season is special because it was the last year of racing for Reinhold Joest.
In his last participation at Le Mans, he was sharing the Porsche 908 with Dale Whittington and Klaus Niedzwiedz, but they failed to finish the race. Joest’s very last race was 9 hours of Kyalami and he ended his racing career with a victory, driving the Porsche 936. His co-driver in the last race was Jochen Mass.
Bob Wollek joined Joest Racing in 1982
Bob Wollek joined the team in 1982. Brilliant Bob had won the German Racing Championship (DRM) in a Joest-Porsche 936. In 1983, Group C cars were introduced. Joest Racing caused a sensation at Porsche 956 debut at Monza. Bob Wollek and Thierry Boutsen, in a private car, beat the Porsche team. In 1983, Wollek won his second DRM title.
The 1984 season started with Sebring victory. The winners were Mauricio de Narvaez, Hans Heyer and Stefan Johansson. And then, in June 1984, Joest Racing celebrated the first overall victory at 24 hours of Le Mans, with Klaus Ludwig and Henri Pescarolo driving the #7 New Man Porsche 956. Furthermore, the team won the DRM title for the third year in a row and the Porsche Cup for the fourth time in succession.
Second in a row Le Mans win for #7 New-Man Porsche 956
In 1985, the yellow New-Man #7 Porsche 956 was again the victorious car at Le Mans. Klaus Ludwig was again in the cockpit, sharing the car with Paolo Barilla and John Winter (Louis Krages). Jochen Mass also took the German Sportscar Championship for Joest Racing.
In 1986, the new Porsche 962 was the dominant car in the World Sportscar Championship. Joest Racing clinched the runner-up spot in the championship, behind Brun Motorsport. At Le Mans, Joest Racing’s #7 Porsche 956B was the fastest car in the field, but the last year’s winner retired after 196 laps. The #8 car finished in third place, driven by all-American crew George Follmer, John Morton and Kenper Miller.
The 1987 Le Mans race was disappointing for Joest Racing because both Porsche 962 prototypes retired due to engine failure. However, Joest Racing finished second in three competitions – the Supercup, the Interseries and the Porsche Cup.
Strong recovery with two consecutive Le Mans podiums in 1988 and 1989
In 1988, Joest Racing was back on the Le Mans podium. Frank Jelinski, Stanley Dickens and Louis Krages finished third overall, driving the #8 Blaupunkt Porsche 962C. In the World Sportscar Championship, the team finished in third place.
In 1989, Hans-Joachim Stuck and Bob Wollek added one more Le Mans podium to Joest Racing’s account, finishing third and the best of all Porsche crews. In the World Championship, Joest Racing was second, behind Sauber Team Mercedes.
For the 1990 season, Joest Racing was appointed as a works team for the first time by Porsche. However, despite numerous modifications, the Porsche 962C was no longer competitive. In the WSC, the fourth place at Silverstone was the best result. At Le Mans, Joest Racing also finished fourth, with Frank Jelinski, Derek Bell and Hans-Joachim Stuck in the #7 Porsche 962C.
1991 Daytona victory for Lucky Seven
In 1991, Porsche withdrew from the World Sportscar Championship and, as a result, Joest Racing moved its operation to the North American IMSA Championship. The “Lucky Seven” scored the victory at 24 hours of Daytona. Five drivers participated in that victory: Haywood, Jelinski, Wollek, Pescarolo and John Winter.
Bernd Schneider took the Interseries title for Joest Racing and the team clinched the Porsche Cup one more time. At 24h Le Mans, the best-placed crew was in the seventh place. In 1992, Joest Racing missed the Le Mans race and continued to compete in the IMSA Championship and European-based Interseries.
The season of 1993 was the milestone year for Joest Racing, because it was the last year with Porsche. Under the direction of Ralf Jüttner, the team developed probably the most spectacular version of the Porsche 962C, featuring an enormous double rear wing. The car was nicknamed “Double Decker” and Joest Racing celebrated a victory with that car at Road America.
1993 – Joest Racing joined Opel in the DTM
In 1993, simultaneously with Porsche program, Joest Racing became works and development team for the DTM. The Opel Calibra V6 debuted at the Hockenheim finale, with Keke Rosberg scoring points in the first race. In 1994, Joest Racing concentrated solely on the DTM project. The cars were driven by Manuel Reuter, Keke Rosberg and John Winter. Reuter scored the first Opel win in DTM history at Donington. Although he didn’t compete in the sports car races, Joest Racing was involved in the Le Mans victory of the Dauer-Porsche 962.
In 1995, four Opel Calibras competed in DTM and in the international sister series ITC. The drivers were Manuel Reuter, JJ Lehto, Yannick Dalmas and Ni Amorim. They scored no wins, Reuter was in the second place two times (Magny-Cours and Hockenheim).
Victorious return to Le Mans in 1996
The season of 1996 was one of the most successful years in Joest Racing’s history. The squad won the International Touring Car series with Manuel Reuter. Joest Racing also returned to Le Mans with two TWR Porsche WSC-95 prototypes and celebrated a triumphant comeback: Manuel Reuter, Alexander Wurz and Davy Jones scored the third Le Mans victory for Joest Racing. The victorious car again had the number 7.
Following the collapse of ITC, Joest Racing reduced its programme in the 1997 season to the one single race with the one single car. The “Lucky Seven” was again victorious at Le Mans for the fourth time. The drivers were Michele Alboreto, Stefan Johansson and Tom Kristensen (at his Le Mans debut).
In 1998, Joest Racing again received support from Porsche. Joest Racing ran two open-top prototypes and both times retired. The highlight of the season was the second place at inaugural Petit Le Mans race at Road Atlanta.
Audi Sport Team Joest was born in 1999
During 1998, Audi was preparing to enter the World Endurance Championship and was looking for a partner. They needed a race team with lots of experience and technical knowledge.
At the unveiling of the new Audi R8R in Berlin in 1998, Joest Racing was presented as the new Audi works team. Audi Sport Team Joest had a successful debut in 1999, reaching podiums both at Sebring and at Le Mans.
Video : On-board Audi Sport Team Joest’s #8 car at 6 Hours of USA
The tools of their trade: creating the unparalleled Audi Sport Team Joest
The new Audi R8, which made a winning debut at the 2000 Sebring 12h, smashed the competition at Le Mans, scoring a convincing 1-2-3 victory. The winning car #8 was driven by Tom Kristensen, Frank Biela and Emanuele Pirro. The Audi Sport Team Joest was also unbeatable in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS). Allan McNish has won the Drivers’ title, Joest the Teams’ and Audi the Manufacturers’ Championship.
Kristensen, Pirro and Biela scored two more wins in 2001 and 2002. For the first time ever, a team had won Le Mans three times in a row with the same three drivers. Joest Racing was successful again in the ALMS, defending the titles in 2001 and 2002. The 2001 season was overshadowed by the death of Michele Alboreto, who lost his life in a testing accident at the Lausitzring.
Joest’s return to DTM with Audi
During the 2003 season, Audi concentrated on the development of a new DTM car for 2004. With the support of Audi Sport North America, Joest Racing competed as a customer team in the American Le Mans Series and won the ALMS title for the fourth time in a row. Team Joest successfully supported Bentley at Le Mans, where Rinaldo Capello, Tom Kristensen and Guy Smith won the long distance classic.
In 2004, Joest Racing returned to DTM. The team’s first year in the “new” DTM was not an easy one; they scored no wins or podiums. However, the team won valuable points and helped Audi to win the Manufacturers Championship. After one more season in DTM, Joest Racing returned to Le Mans in 2006.
Three Le Mans wins with diesel-powered prototypes
It was a sensational return in which Audi Sport Team Joest wrote motorsport history, winning the race for the first time with a diesel-powered car. The drivers of the #8 Audi R10 TDI were Frank Biela, Emanuele Pirro and Marco Werner. Besides Le Mans success, Joest squad helped Audi’s factory team to win the ALMS title.
Joest Racing repeated the Le Mans triumph in 2007 with the same drivers in the #1 car. The third consecutive win of the diesel-powered prototype followed in 2008. The winning drivers were Dindo Capello, Tom Kristensen and Allan McNish. The season finished with European Le Mans title for Joest Racing, thanks to Mike Rockenfeller and Alexandre Premat. The new Audi R15 TDI came in 2009 but Peugeot took the Le Mans victory. Last year’s winning crew finished third.
Five more Le Mans wins between 2010 and 2014
In 2010, the new winning streak at Le Mans started, and it lasted until 2014. In that period, Audi Sport Team Joest scored five consecutive wins with different prototypes, increasing the total number of wins for Joest Racing to fifteen.
In 2010, Romain Dumas, Timo Bernhard and Mike Rockenfeller were driving the Audi R15 TDI plus. In 2011, the Audi R18 TDI came. The victorious drivers were Andre Lotterer, Benoit Treluyer and Marcel Fassler. They repeated the victory in 2012, which was also the inaugural year of the new World Endurance Championship. No need to say, the Audi Sport Team Joest took the world’s title.
In 2013, Le Mans winners were Tom Kristensen, Allan McNish and Loïc Duval. It was the record-breaking ninth win for Kristensen. Audi again clinched the drivers’ and manufacturers’ titles in the World Championship. In 2014, Lotterer, Treluyer and Fassler were the Le Mans winners again but the FIA WEC title went to Toyota drivers.
Victory at 2011 Bathurst 12 Hour race
Besides racing with prototypes and touring cars, Joest Racing was successful in GT racing. The team recorded one sole participation and victory at the famous Bathurst 12 Hour race at Mount Panorama in 2011, entering two Audi R8 LMS cars.
Views of potential challenges after 2016 WEC
In the last two seasons of the FIA WEC participation (2015 and 2016), Porsche factory team dominated at Le Mans and in the championship. However, Joest Racing’s drivers continued to collect victories until the very end. In both seasons, the team had the same two crews: Andre Lotterer, Benoit Treluyer and Marcel Fassler in the #7 Audi R18; Lucas di Grassi, Loic Duval and Oliver Jarvis in the #8 Audi R18.
In 2015, Lotterer, Treluyer and Fassler won at Silverstone and Spa. At Spa and Le Mans, the team was using three cars but for 2016, the number was decreased to two cars. In 2016, Oliver Jarvis, Lucas di Grassi and Loic Duval were victorious with Audi R18 at Spa-Francorchamps.
Reinhold Joest still didn’t announce what the team would do when they close FIA WEC operations after the last race in Bahrain.