After leading Audi Sport since early 2016, Stephan Winkelmann will now relinquish his role as chief of the performance division in order to focus on Bugatti, whose leadership he was assigned after former boss Wolfgang Dürheimer stepped down in October.
To replace Winkelmann, Audi has selected Michael-Julius Renz, who currently oversees sales of the Audi brand in China. Renz will use his experience to expand sales of Audi Sport models not only in China but worldwide.
“With his international experience, Michael-Julius Renz will further drive the growth of Audi Sport worldwide,” Audi CEO Rupert Stadler said in a statement. “Under his leadership, we want to firmly establish the brand as a global player in the market.”
Audi Sport is planning a massive expansion to catch up with Mercedes-AMG and to a lesser degree BMW M. The restructuring has already commenced under Winkelmann’s watch, which included the name change from Quattro to Audi Sport as well as the laying of foundations for SUVs and electrified performance.
Over the last six years, Audi Sport has more than doubled its sales figures, and 2017 is set to be another record year. By 2020, Audi Sport will also have expanded its range from 11 models to 16.
Over at Bugatti, Winkelmann’s first priorities will be the development and introduction of future Chiron variants, which may take the Grand Sport and Super Sport names used for additional variants of the Veyron. Winkelmann knows a thing or two about exotic brands as he was head of Lamborghini from 2005 until 2016, during which time he oversaw the launch of a second model line for the brand with the Gallardo. Don’t be surprised if he does the same at Bugatti.