Lamborghini CEO and president Stephan Winkelmann, who has seen the automaker through the most productive (and very likely the best-managed) period in its 53-year history, will step down effective March 15. His replacement is not a total surprise: Stefano Domenicali, an Imola, Italy, native with over two decades of involvement with the Ferrari Formula One team.
The always-affable Winkelmann joined Lamborghini in 2005. Over the course of his tenure, sales more than doubled to a record-breaking 3,245 cars sold in 2015 — a record all but guaranteed to be demolished once again when the upcoming Urus SUV, developed under Winkelmann’s watch, hits the market in 2018.
Despite his departure from Lamborghini, Winkelmann isn’t straying too far: He will become CEO of Audi high-performance division quattro GmbH. So, instead of a Huracan company car, he’ll be stuck in an R8. We can’t say we feel too badly for him.
Domenicali has been vice president of New Business Initiatives at Audi since November 2014. But it’s what he did before stepping into that rather vague-sounding Audi position that grabbed our interest. Domenicali began working at Ferrari in 1991, moving to Scuderia Ferrari in 1993; he served as team principal in 2008 and represented the team before the FIA from 2009 to 2014.
His involvement with the FIA, and open-wheel racing, continues to this day: Domenicali is president of the body’s single-seater commission.
We suspect his motorsport experience will find a receptive home at Lamborghini. Traditionally, and unlike Ferrari, the company hasn’t relied on podium placement to sell its cars. That’s changing, if only gradually.
Lamborghini is more than capable of building competent road-racing cars, as the impressive (though uneven and controversial) debut performance by Huracan GT3s at the Rolex 24 at Daytona demonstrated. Yet company brass has maintained that its involvement in motorsport will be limited to serving client racing teams … at least for the foreseeable future.
Will that change with Domenicali at the helm? We don’t expect anything too dramatic right away, but we’ll be watching this one closely.