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Dieter Gass to become new head of motorsport at Audi

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Audi has confirmed that Dieter Gass will become its new head of motorsport for 2017, taking over from Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich.

Ullrich confirmed last month that he would be stepping down after 23 years at the helm of Audi motorsport, overseeing 13 victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Audi announced at the end of October that it would be quitting the FIA World Endurance Championship and Le Mans after 2016 in order to focus on Formula E, where it will field a works team in the near future.

In a statement issued by Audi on Friday, Gass (pictured left, with Ullrich) was confirmed as its new head of motorsport from January 1, moving up from his role as head of racing commitments.

“Dieter Gass is going to lead Audi Sport through the upcoming transformation stage and continue to write Audi’s success story in motorsport,” Ullrich said.

“He knows Audi Sport like few others do. From November 1994 to March 2001, he worked there as an engineer – initially in the super touring car and subsequently in the sports prototype program.

“Afterwards, he held leading positions in Formula One for eleven years. In that period, he gathered a wealth of know-how that Audi Sport has been benefiting from ever since his return in 2012.

“Following one year as Head of Racing Commitments and four years as Head of DTM, he is now taking his next, carefully planned step. I will be assisting him in this role in an advisory capacity, but not in the operational side of the business.

“I know that Audi’s motorsport commitment is in good hands with Dieter Gass.”

Gass added: ““The footsteps left by Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich are very large. He was at the helm of Audi Sport for 23 years and is credited with exceptional achievements during this long period of time.

“In addition to the global development of partnering teams and countless championships in super touring car racing, the 13 victories in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and numerous DTM titles stand out as lasting milestones.

“But I’d be remiss not to mention the development of customer racing at Audi and Audi Sport’s move to the modern Competence Center Motorsport in Neuburg designed for today’s needs. Careers like these are very rare in motorsport.”

Ullrich will remain with Audi in an advisory role until the end of 2017.

GoDaddy to sponsor Patrick in ‘Danica Double’ at Daytona, Indy — now all she needs are rides

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By The Associated Press

Danica Patrick is going back to green.

GoDaddy Green, to be exact – a fitting color for her farewell tour.

The company will sponsor Patrick in the upcoming “Danica Double” that will close out her racing career, The Associated Press has learned. Patrick has no ride yet for next month’s Daytona 500 or the Indianapolis 500 in May, but she now has the financial backing to pull it off.

This time around, the original GoDaddy Girl will symbolize the new core mission of the company that helped make her one of the world’s most recognizable athletes.

“There’s this great story: I left IndyCar with GoDaddy on my car, I started NASCAR with GoDaddy on my car, I’m most recognized as the GoDaddy green car and driver, and so to finish up my career that way feels appropriate,” Patrick told the AP from Scottsdale, Arizona.

Her final race will be the Indy 500, an appropriate choice because it was “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” that rocketed Patrick and GoDaddy into pop culture notoriety.

GoDaddy and Patrick grew up together. The company switched series with her and marketed her as a strong, sexy woman in 13 Super Bowl commercials – a record appearance for celebrities. Now, the company is most interested in Patrick the budding businesswoman who is firmly closing the door on her racing career and rebranding herself as an entrepreneur . She has a book out, an apparel line, a wine label and confirmed to AP this week that she’s dating Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

“Our goals are so well-aligned,” Barb Rechterman, the chief marketing officer of GoDaddy, told AP. “She’s passionate, tenacious and creative just like so many of our customers who are also looking to leverage the power of the internet and turn their `side hustle’ into a full-time business. Danica absolutely epitomizes the heart of our GoDaddy customers.”

Prepare to hear a lot about the “side hustle” as GoDaddy climbs aboard the so-far fledgling “Danica Double.”

Patrick announced in November she would end her driving career with the Daytona 500 and Indy 500, but didn’t have a deal completed for either race. Still doesn’t. Yet somehow, Patrick always figures a way to get what she wants. Talks ended with Chip Ganassi Racing about a possible ride, and late last month, Patrick said, she called former GoDaddy founder Bob Parsons and asked about a reunion.

GoDaddy has rebranded since it last teamed with Patrick. The company now touts itself as “the world’s largest cloud platform dedicated to small, independent ventures,” and there’s no better spokeswoman than Patrick, who is in the next chapter of her life and her brand.

GoDaddy pulled out of racing after the 2015 season, and Patrick hasn’t had the same level of funding and marketing support since. Patrick has slowly reshaped her image, first into a Instagram model and is now a full-blown lifestyle guru. She realized – at the age of 35 – she was on her own.

She and GoDaddy aligned for a splashy move into NASCAR, where she was glamorous off the track but only mediocre on it. Through all of this, she was married, divorced, spent five years dating fellow driver and competitor Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and then seemed to find herself through a tailored diet, exercise and a healthy lifestyle.

She is cutting the cord on racing after Indy, and her focus is on a sense of well-being far away from the track.

“Their business is so perfectly paired to what is going on with mine, so when we sat down and met, it was like, `Let’s talk about our business. Let’s talk about the messaging. How does this work?”‘ Patrick said. “And this is undeniably perfect for both of us. Not only is it a huge two races and the biggest two races of the year, but on top of that, you have so much `side hustle’ going on, and all the messaging and our brands, and where we are going is so perfectly paired.”w

GoDaddy can help Patrick move on to whatever it is for racing’s former “It Girl.” The company will help her streamline her online presence. Patrick, for the company, is back as a neon green-and-yellow symbol to all the wannabe entrepreneurs chasing dreams.

She’ll get those rides, too. Patrick said she knows she will because she believes she will.

“That’s just the way the universe works,” she said. “You have to ask for what you want. Things have taken a long time with this, but you just have to go with the flow on these things. The universe is not on your time schedule.”

More AP auto racing: https://racing.ap.org/