Driving an R8 LMS entered by HCB-Rutronik Racing, Patric Niederhauser and Kelvin van der Linde won three races this season and became the first partnership in the history of the series to wrap up the title ahead of the final weekend. Van der Linde has been a mainstay of the Audi sports customer racing squad for the past few years, and his Swiss team-mate has now also been signed with effect from the 2020 season.
"I'm obviously very grateful and happy that it’s worked out," said Niederhauser. "The support I have received from Audi Sport customer racing and from my championship-winning team, HCB-Rutronik Racing, has been unbelievable. This title has been a joint effort. For me, competing as an Audi Sport driver next year is a childhood dream come true. It’s been quite a rocky path to get here. I’ve had some amazing experiences along the way with plenty of highs and lows. At a certain point in my career, I decided to go all in. It was a risky move, but it’s paid off. There will be a lot of new opportunities for me as an Audi Sport driver. I am so grateful to Audi Sport customer racing for the confidence they have shown in me."
Likewise joining Audi Sport customer racing is Italy’s Mirko Bortolotti. The 29-year-old has spent the past six years of his career driving Lamborghinis, during which time he has registered six race wins in the Super Sports Car League. In 2019, he shared the cockpit of an Orange1 by GRT Grasser Huracan GT3 with Christian Engelhart, winning three races and ending the campaign as championship runners-up.
"A warm welcome to both drivers," says Chris Reinke, Head of Audi Sport customer racing. "They are a perfect addition to our team. Mirko has been a professional for many years, and Patric’s graduation to the status is a well-earned reward for the title win in Germany. We are sure that Mirko and Patric are the perfect fit for us, both character-wise and in sporting terms."
In Mattia Drudi, Christopher Haase, Pierre Kaffer, Christopher Mies, Frank Stippler, Dries Vanthoor, Frederic Vervisch and Markus Winkelhock, Audi have eight other contestants in the 2019 ADAC GT Masters on board. Rahel Frey, who is also a previous winner of two ADAC GT Masters races, continues as a factory driver for the Bavarian manufacturer.