The 200 was a success with Hurley Haywood and Hans Stuck at the wheel. Its Quattro system gave a huge advantage in the wet but Trans Am banned four-wheel drive for the ’89 season. Audi moved to IMSA with a revised car, and an all new engine, developed in just five months. After a year of teething problems, the car and engine was finally sorted before the 1990 season, but then, the arrival of a new technical director meant IMSA was out and DTM was in.
To this point, all of Baretzky’s race engine experience had been with turbo charged applications, but in the early ‘90s, he would begin a period of ‘traditional’ racing engine development, starting with Audi’s entry into DTM. “It was the first time in my life I’d had to deal with a naturally aspirated race engine and the rules said everything we did had to be based on production parts,” reminisces Baretzky.
Creative interpretation of engine regs brought overwhelming success in DTM
The DTM Audi V8 (the car was named after the engine, the A8 nomenclature would follow later) would prove devastatingly effective, but not without its share of controversy. Up against the BMW M3 and Mercedes 190 the Audi V8 was potent, and, come the final race of the season at Hockenheim, they sealed the title with Hans Stuck. Audi would win again in 1991, but in ’92, growing resentment against Audi’s dominance saw politics come to the fore. “They were always trying to screw Audi down,” bemoans Baretzky. The development that saw this tension come to a head was Audi’s use of a flat plane crank.
To this day, he stands by the legality of the crank and is adamant it stuck to the production parts rules. “The crankshaft is produced by forging. When you forge the production crank it is then twisted in a jig to put the webs in a position you need. For the production car it is a 90-degree orientation, we did the same for the race part, we just twisted it 270 degrees further, a had a flat crank. But it was still the production part!”
Despite rulemakers initially agreeing the part was legal, pressure from other teams saw it outlawed mid-season and ultimately, Audi withdrew from DTM, along with BMW. Global recession almost put paid to Audi’s motorsport programs at this point, but fortunately there was a business case for building cars in Super Touring. This ballooned into Audi supporting cars in eight championships across the globe and, while engine design was still very much on Baretzky’s mind, logistics came to the fore, managing the development and building of over 300 engines a year.
In 1997, Baretzky received a mysterious request from new Audi chairman, Dr Franz -Joseph Paefgen, to travel to England, where upon he was introduced to Richard Lloyd of TOMS Racing Team Norfolk (RTN). “Paefgen then explained why he wanted us there. He said, ‘I have had a dream since I was a boy of 12, I went to Le Mans and, watching the cars, decided that one day I would like to return with my own car. This is now the time. I want to go to Le Mans, and you tell me what you need to win.” So began Audi’s Le Mans odyssey.
What followed from Baretzky was a torrent of expletives, along with a promise that if anyone touched ‘his’ engine, physical harm would come their way
Having been deprived of turbocharging for most of the 90s, Baretzky immediately decided Audi’s Le Mans challenger would have a turbocharged V8. The working relationship between Audi and the British crew at RTN, which was building the closed R8C, had its ups and downs, but Baretzky views the period fondly. “Tony [Southgate] and the English guys worked day and night – you can do that with English people and is what I appreciate about working with them. They don’t complain, they just do it. If they come and say ‘we have a little problem’, you can be sure it’s a disaster.”
There were some tense moments, such as the time Baretzky got a call from one of his engineers in England. Someone wanted to drill a hole in one of the engine supports to mount the car’s underfloor. That someone was Peter Elleray and what followed from Baretzky was a torrent of expletives, along with a promise that if anyone touched ‘his’ engine, physical harm would come their way.
The R8 went on to dominate at Le Mans and the engine project laid the groundwork for the Bentley challenger which took the win in 2003. That car was built and designed in the UK, but the engine was all Audi, and behind the scenes, Baretzky was instrumental in Audi allowing Bentley (owned by the VW group) to use its engine.
The winning streak begins: R8s take all the podium places at Le Mans in 2000
Marcel Mochet/Getty Images
The R8 project also saw the arrival of direct injection in motorsport, another Baretzky first. But it was touch and go whether Audi’s system got to debut at Le Mans in 2001. “Dyno running showed the new DI engine to be excellent, with a 10% reduction in fuel consumption over the existing V8,” recalls Baretzky. But problems struck during track testing. “After one hour, we had an engine failure. It was because of a sealing problem with the fuel pumps.”
“I told Audi we should run a diesel at Le Mans. They told me, ‘You’re a good man, but you should not drink so much!’”
Just ten days before Le Mans, there was still no solution. At the 11th hour, an Audi engineer sent to Bosch found that they had a viable seal all along, but by this point, Baretzky had a total of 24 engines sat in a lorry to ship to the track, 12 of the previous years and 12 of the new DI version! “A week prior to Le Mans, we got the new pumps, put them on the engines and drove to Le Mans. I was quite close to killing someone at Bosch at that point. But it worked,” he remembers.
Not only was the new engine more economical, it provided the drivers with much greater control, something Baretzky says was key to the win in 2001, a ferociously wet race. “After the first session, Emanuele Pirro came back to the pits, ran to me, shook my hands and said thank you. What for? I asked. For this engine, was his reply, it is running like an electric motor.”
More than the sum of these parts: components of Baretzky’s V12 diesel engine for the R10
The innovation of direct injection would pale next to Baretzky’s next move. The ACO had concocted a ruleset to allow diesels to race at Le Mans, a move he was initially opposed to, but then he says, “I was struck by a lighting bolt, I thought f**k, if I don’t do diesel, someone else will and I will regret it for the rest of my life. Audi was the pioneer of direct injected diesel, it was the perfect story.”
The diesel V12 was the power behind three Le Mans wins
The challenge then was to convince the Audi board. “I went to them and told them I think we should run a diesel at Le Mans. They looked at me and told me, ‘You’re a good man, but you should not drink so much!’”
However, attitudes would change and, at around midnight at Le Mans 2004, in the dramatic setting of the VIP box over the start finish straight, a conversation with Martin Winterkorn (then Audi chairman) and Ferdinand Piech head of the entire VW group, would seal the deal.
Allan McNish nurses the R10 to a debut victory in Sebring
Jean Michel Le Meur/DPPI
Development took place in utmost secrecy and when the R10 was released in 2006, Baretzky’s foresight was proved correct. It dominated on its Sebring debut, despite underlying problems that nearly caused a DNF at its maiden race. Among the tales of incorrectly supplied wiring looms (that meant the engine’s ECU didn’t actually know the crank position) and almost melting pistons. Baretzky recounts an amusing anecdote from immediately after that victory.
He hitched a lift back to the airport with winner Tom Kristensen. “We stopped at the gas station on the way out of the circuit and TK came back with a bunch of newspapers and told me to sort out all of the stories and adverts relating to the race.