Willi Bergmeister, who helped take Audi’s first major touring-car crown, has died at the age of 63.
Bergmeister, whose father Wilhelm was a pre-war factory motorcycle racer for Herclues and Zundapp, began competing in 1969 at the wheel of an NSU TTS and won the German Hillclimb title in ’74 in it. He later began a long association with Volkswagen and Audi, driving a Scirocco in the European Touring Car Championship and adding another hillclimb title in such a machine in ’76.
Having switched to a factory-backed Audi 80 GTE, he and co-driver Hans-Joachim Nowak took four wins from nine ‘Division 2’ races of the 1980 ETCC and helped Audi to its maiden touring-car crown.
His circuit-racing career took a back seat from ’84 onward as he focused on his automotive business, training a young Michael Schumacher as a mechanic in the process. He still managed a few one-off outings during the remainder of his life; contesting the Spa 24 Hours several times in the early ’90s and then coming out of retirement to take part in a VW Scirocco Cup race at Hockenheim in 2010. His sons, Jorg and Tim, have both achieved huge domestic and international success in GT racing over the past 15 years.