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In the general world of motorsport, the departure of a star driver from a team is headline news and Tom Kristensen’s retirement is a good example of that. However, this is Audi, where a spotlight practically just as bright is focused on the engineering side of the team. Names like Howden Haynes, Leena Gade and Kyle Wilson Clarke are likely just as well known and for good reason. It is with a heavy heart then that we mention the departure of both Howden Haynes and Kyle Wilson Clarke.
It seems the movement by Howden, affectionately known as “H”, is a bit less of a surprise. We know some who’ve said H had been mentioning it before during the season. And, while the British-born engineer is leaving Audi Sport’s WEC squad, that doesn’t mean he’s retiring like Kristensen.
Howden may just be the proto star engineer at Audi. Now famously mic’ed up just minutes before the 2008 24 Hours of Le Mans, he became an integral part of the story told in Audi’s first Truth in 24 documentary of that race when he famously argued with Tom Kristensen about tire choice.
Howden recently sat down for an in-depth debrief with Radio Le Mans and spoke of his history (much of it with Audi Sport) and where he plans to go from here. We highly suggest you listen in and you can find that podcast HERE.
In recent years, H has taken on more of a managerial role overseeing Audi’s team of race engineers like Leena Gade and Kyle Wilson Clarke. In that sense, he’s no longer a presence on just one car. Kyle Wilson Clarke on the other hand has been essentially the lead engineer for Duval/Kristensen/McNish team for the last two years. That means he’s in part responsible for last year’s victory at Le Mans and last year’s championship in the FIA WEC.
In a somewhat surprise move just ahead of the 6 Hours of Sao Paulo, Wilson Clarke announced to the team that he was resigning his position and transferring to Porsche Motorsport. Porsche has confirmed they’ll mount a third car for Le Mans next year and it wouldn’t be surprising to see Kyle working one of those cars. He’s a strong addition to the Porsche team and he’ll be missed in the Audi garage. His absence was noted in Brazil.
With all this talk of departure, it is worth noting that Leena Gade will remain at Audi. While once a contract employee for Audi Sport via Howden Haynes’ company in the UK, Gade more recently became a direct employee of Audi Sport. Not only is she a celebrity in her own right since her role Truth in 24 II depicting her first win in 2011, she won again in 2012 and this year in 2014. She now resides in Germany and works in Ingolstadt and completed this season second place in the standings with her team of Fassler/Lotterer/Treluyer.