Christian Abt is a German former racing driver who achieved the most in touring car and sports car races, driving mostly Audi cars. The highlight of his career is the overall podium at 24 hours of Le Mans in 2000, when he finished in the third place with factory-entered Audi R8 prototype.
He was four times on a podium in another 24-hour race, at Nürburgring Nordschleife circuit, but never scored a victory at the Green Hell. He was on a podium in 2003, 2006, 2009 and 2012.
Christian was the 1999 German Supertouring champion and the 2009 ADAC GT Masters champion. Between those two championship-winning seasons, he spent eight seasons in the DTM as Audi driver, scoring only one victory.
Member of well-known motorsport family
Christian Abt was born on May 8, 1967, in Kempten. His family is well known in the automotive industry and motorsport, as their first company was founded back in 1896 and they participated in races since the 1950s. In 1991, Hans-Jurgen Abt and Christian founded a racing team Abt Sportsline, which would follow Christian through his entire career.
Two championship titles at the start of a career
He started racing in the Formula BMW Junior in 1991, immediately becoming a champion. Next year, he was a champion again, in the B-class of the German Formula 3. In the overall standings, he was 13th. Christian stayed in the Formula 3 for three more seasons, until the end of 1995, finishing best in the 7th place in 1993.
In 1994, Christian also participated in the ADAC GT Cup, driving Audi C5 for the family team. In July 1995, he debuted at 24 hours of Spa, driving Audi Quattro for Belgian VW Audi Club and finishing in the fourth place.
Switching to touring car racing since 1996
After leaving Formula 3, Christian focused on touring car racing since 1996, entering the German Supertouring Championship (STW – Super Tourenwagen Cup). He was driving the #18 Audi A4 quattro for Abt Sportsline, scoring three podiums in a debut season and finishing in the fourth place.
In the next two seasons, he was without wins or podiums, finishing in the 13th place in 1997 and 12th place in 1998.
1999 Super Tourenwagen Cup champion
1999 - Supertouring championship title and Le Mans debut
And then, in 1999, one of the most successful seasons in his career followed. Christian was among the front-runners in the Super Tourenwagen Cup, scoring five wins and eleven podiums to win the championship.
In the same year, he debuted at 24 hours of Le Mans, driving the #9 Audi R8C for Audi Sport UK, together with Stephane Ortelli and Stefan Johansson. They retired with broken gearbox after 55 laps.
It was Abt's last attempt at Le Mans. Although he was Audi factory driver during the 2000s, when Audi was ruling in the endurance races, he focused on touring car races (DTM) and never returned to Le Mans.
Christian entered revived DTM in 2000
In 2000, after a demise of Super Tourenwagen Cup, the DTM was revived and renamed to Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters. Christian continued to drive for a family team, which entered a championship with four drivers in the Audi TT-R cars. As defending STW champion, Abt had a disappointing season in his DTM debut, finishing in the 19th place among twenty full-time drivers.
Abt's maiden DTM win at Zandvoort
In 2001, Christian improved his performances, driving the updated version of Audi TT-R. After two podiums at Sachsenring and Nürburgring, he scored his maiden DTM victory at Zandvoort in September. At the end of the season, Abt was 10th in the points. It remained his only DTM victory in a career.
Christian Abt in 2002
2003 - Nürburgring 24h podium with Audi TT-R
In 2002, Christian Abt scored four podiums in the #10 Audi TT-R, finishing seventh in the final standings. It remained his best result in eight seasons he spent in the DTM.
In 2003, Audi, BMW and Opel entered V8-powered DTM cars to 24 hours of Nürburgring. Opel scored its only N24 win, Abt finished in the second place, sharing a car with Kris Nissen, Karl Wendlinger and Marco Werner.
After four seasons with Audi TT-R, a new Audi A4 debuted in the DTM in 2004. In 2005 DTM season, Christian changed a team, joining Audi Sport Team Joest. Next year, he was transferred to Audi Sport Team Phoenix, staying with the team until the end of 2007.
Christian Abt and Christina Surer in 2005
2006 - Nürburgring 24h podium with Porsche
In 2006, while driving for Audi in the DTM, Christian joined Porsche customer team, sponsored by H&R Spezialfedern, at Nurburgring 24 hours. He was driving Porsche 911 GT3, together with Jurgen Alzen, Uwe Alzen and Klaus Ludwig. They finished second, behind Manthey Racing's Porsche.
In 2008, Christian left DTM and switched to Porsche Carrera Cup Deutschland. He spent one season in the popular single-make competition, scoring no wins or podiums to finish 14th in the points.
Christian Abt in 2007
ADAC GT Masters champion in 2009
In 2009, Christian rejoined Abt Sportsline drivers' line-up, not in the DTM but in the ADAC GT Masters. In the season-opening round, his co-driver in the #6 Audi R8 LMS was South African Shane Williams, after that he was joined by Jan Seyffarth. With three wins and eight podiums, Christian became a champion.
In 2009, Christian reached one more outright podium at 24 hours of Nürburgring. He was sharing the #97 Audi R8 LMS with Pierre Kaffer, Lucas Luhr and Jean-Francois Hemroulle. They finished in the second place, behind Manthey Racing's Porsche.
Fourth podium at Nürburgring in 2012
Following his triumph in the German GT championship, Christian slowed down his racing activities, with occasional participations in races. He returned to Nurburgring 24h few more times with Audi customer teams, finishing in the fifth place in 2011 and reaching one more podium in 2012.
2012 - one more last season in the ADAC GT Masters
In 2012, Abt returned to full-time racing for the last time, participating in the ADAC GT Masters with Prosperia UHC Speed team. He was sharing the #22 Audi with Carsten Tilke, scoring no wins or podiums in sixteen races.
In recent years, completely retiring from racing, Christian focused on different managing duties in the family team and company.