But he could have done it! Even in Russia, many have heard of the Abt family, primarily thanks to Russian Audi and Volkswagen dealers working directly with this tuning studio. Elements of the Abt Sportsline brand are sold in our editions, against which other tuning brands of foreign origin simply fade. But abroad, especially in Germany, the surname Abt is still known much more widely. In Bavaria, in the city of Kempten, it has long become a local symbol.
History of success. The first milestone in it was 1952, when 17-year-old Johann Abt won the motocross competition, speaking at DKW. The athlete not only received the official title, but also the nickname from journalists the Young Savage from Kempten. It stayed with Johann for a long time. Over the years, senior Abt successfully participated in races - both on motorcycles and on cars, but over the years he decided to retrain into a businessman, having organized a company for the refinement of Volkswagen cars, Audi, together with the racing team. Abt's determination led him to become one of the leaders in the tuning market and become a “court” atelier for both Ingolstadt and Wolfsburg. In 2003, the founder of Abt Sportsline died. The heirs of his small empire (representation around the world) sons Hans-Jürgen and Christian continued the family business. In addition to a first-class sports team and a tuning studio from Top 10, they inherited a fighting spirit and a sincere love for motors. If the second quality went mainly to the eldest - Hans-Jürgen, the younger - Christian - grew up a real fighter. He is not only the current managing director of Abt Sportsline, but also a regular participant in the DTM races, in parallel with the career of a pilot acting as chief of the team. And still fond of motocross, mountain biking, fitness … All his hobbies are difficult to list. The energy of the 36-year-old German is simply indefatigable. Whatever he does, works with full dedication. Largely thanks to his efforts last season, Audi received several titles. The best pilot, the best team, the best company …
It was with congratulations that our conversation began.
ZRR: Congratulations on this victory. Those who closely watched the competition will confirm that it is rightfully yours. We know that you are already looking closely at Le Mans as a new peak to be conquered. Good luck
K.A.: Thank you, but the victory in the DTM is not mine, but other Audi pilots. I, as a racer, managed to get only one point. But the champion was Matthias Extrem, who stands for Audi Sport Team Abt. Our other two pilots, Tom Christinsen and Martin Tomczyk, took 4th and 5th places in the championship. So we have good cars, but I have something to work on.
ZRR: You manage to seriously engage in motorsport and tuning, which is unique in itself. You are a professional in both ways. Explain what should be a sports car and a tuning car?
K.A.: In fact, we do not have a clear differentiation between these areas. It so happened that we use many of the technologies developed in sports later in tuning. Now we are standing next to our model AS8. Engine power - 450 horsepower. Externally, the car is almost no different from the production Audi, but inside it is a different car. It’s even hard for me to calculate how much of it is from our racing cars.
ZRR: Apparently, are you betting on this particular model? If so, you hit the target - the A8 is very popular with us. And about the "younger" Audi do not forget?
KA: We rely on our Russian partners - Avtospetscentr works for Audi, Auto Hansa for Volkswagen. Today we have tuning programs for all Ingolstadt models, and it is impossible to say exactly which of them will be especially in demand in Russia. From experience, there is a definite correlation between the sales volumes of standard cars and the number of their tuning versions. Partners say that A6 and A4 are also popular with you. Do not forget about other brands. Recently appeared Golf V GTI, there are Seat and Skoda …
ZRR: You are in Moscow only one day. Did you get to know the state of affairs in Russian tuning, motorsport?
K.A.: Not yet. I just heard that both directions are actively developing. Russia, Moscow is a huge, very attractive market for us. But I, as an athlete, are particularly interested in what DTM races are going to be in Russia. This is a very good sign.
ZRR: The DTM venue in Moscow has not yet been determined, but there are rumors that this will be the territory of Moscow State University on the Sparrow Hills. The place is not easy. A few years ago there were held ring races, but then refused. Do you know this place? In another interview, you said that you like difficult, relief tracks …
K.A.: Similarly, up and down (and up and down), and more turns. There is such a track in the Netherlands - Zandfoort, some stages of the Formula three and one pass under similar conditions. And, of course, the Nurburgring's “North Loop”, my favorite track. But this is not for the city. Whatever track you have, I promise - the race will be interesting.
ZRR: Most likely, your brother should have asked this question, but, unfortunately, he could not come and therefore answer you. Does Abt Sportsline now have operational plans for further business expansion? After all, all the pedestals are already occupied. Where else to go?
K.A.: Such plans always exist. We want to grow further. Although we have offices all over the world (in 52 countries), we will never refuse further expansion. Of course, now this is not our main task, but if there is an opportunity to advance, we will use it.
ZRR: West or East?
K.A.: It does not matter.
ZRR: If it’s not a secret, what cars are in your family and how are they modified?
K.A. (recalls with marked difficulty): I will not list everything. Now I drive an Audi A6, modified by Abt Sportsline, before that I went to the Golf GTI, also tuning. I came to some races on the A8 - I love this car. Volkswagen Touareg's brother, Audi A4 Cabriolet. Naturally, each of us drives many cars. In the DTM, I speak of a new generation of sports Audi A4 - a very interesting car that makes it easy to change settings.
ZRR: Wonderful patriotism. And now let's remember about family affairs. After all, you are fond of extreme sports - not only auto racing, but also motocross, mountain biking. How does your family feel about this? Do loved ones share your hobbies?
K.A.: They have to put up.
ZRR: And finally, a question that you probably have been asked many times. But we also ask - I wonder what you answer. What is your life motto?