Ferdinand Piech, the architect of the double Le Mans-winning Porsche 917, died suddenly at the age of 82.
The Austrian's death on Sunday comes four years after he resigned as head of the Volkswagen Group's Supervisory Board, ending a career at the highest levels in the automotive industry for six decades.
At that time, he was Porsche development manager with a 1960s motoring responsibility, turning Audi from a niche manufacturer into a mainstream mark in the 1970s and 80s, and then turned the fortune into parent company, VW, at 1990's.
Piech conceived the Porsche 917 to take advantage of what was effectively a loophole created in the Group 4 GT sports car rules. [1
Porsche's response had not been foreseen by CSI: the German manufacturer developed a bespoke car in the 917 coupe to take advantage when seeking an initial direct victory at Le Mans 24 hours.
Porsche went on to claim victory at Le Mans in 1970 and & # 39; 71, winning the World Cup for Brands in those same years.
Statutory from WCM for the 1972 season, open versions swept all before them in the 1972 North American Can-Am series and & # 39; 73.
917's dominance in two different arenas, as well as a starring role in the 1971 Steve McQueen movie Le Mans secured its place in history.
Piech was forced to leave the company founded by his grandfather, Ferdinand Porsche, in 1972 and moved to Audi the following year and quickly rose to the board level as technical manager.
He never lost interest in motorsport.
He inspired Audi Quattro, who went on to run the World Rally Championship titles from the start of the Group B era in 1982.
As Bentley chairman of the board following the takeover of VW which he inspired, Piech signed the program as took the mark back to Le Mans after an absence of 70 years in 2001 and finally won the race in & # 39; 03.
The son of Ferdinand Porsche's daughter, Louise, joined Piech in the family business in 1963 after studying engineering in Zurich and quickly becoming head of research and development.
He resigned as head of VW in 2002, but retained power and influence as chairman and was a key player in the maneuver that resulted in Porsche being submerged into the VW empire.
He is survived by his second wife Ursula.