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New car fleet

Partnership with Audi is source of pride

It was with bright eyes and a frisson of excitement that the Bayern players took to the outer Promenade at the Allianz Arena in midweek, where the gleaming automobiles provided by club partner Audi were waiting to be collected. The line-up included a black Q7 for Luca Toni, a quartz grey S6 boasting 435 horsepower for Franck Ribéry, a metallic black S8 for Zé Roberto, and a white version of the same model with 450 horses under the bonnet for captain Oliver Kahn.

Board directors Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, Uli Hoeneß and Karl Hopfner, and head coach Ottmar Hitzfeld and his assistant Michael Henke, were also present to collect their new company vehicles. "I've chosen the same model for the third time. It's a wonderful car," Rummenigge declared as he eyed his new 12-cylinder A8. "Even if Audi wasn't our sponsor, I'd buy this car," the chairman confirmed.

Perfect partnership

Germany's most successful club and Audi have enjoyed a close relationship since July 2002. The Ingolstadt-based manufacturer, a Premium Partner of the club, supplies Bayern with its automobile fleet. The Allianz Arena provided a spectacular backdrop for this season's symbolic handover, the players and management having earlier made their specific selections.

"We're extremely satisfied with this partnership," Rummenigge declared. Manager Hoeneß also praised the productive relationship: "We're incredibly proud to have such a superb automotive partner." The directors emphasised the wide-ranging symmetry between the two sides.

Relationship full of life

The manufacturer is similarly delighted over its involvement with Germany's leading club. "Audi and Bayern Munich is a strong and successful partnership, which has continued to be vibrant for five years. We're delighted to take our place at the side of Germany's most successful club," Audi AG chairman Rupert Stadler commented.

A number of candidates came forward five years ago when Bayern last went in search of new automotive partner. "We had offers from the likes of BMW and Mercedes," Rummenigge revealed, "but we opted for Audi because they have the highest affinity to football. This fact has positively shone through in our partnership."

Back to the Marienplatz?

The new fleet was soon powered up and on the road as Hitzfeld and most of his players drove direct from the Allianz Arena to Munich airport, ready for the charter flight to Monchengladbach, while Rummenigge, Hopfner and the injured players made their way back to the Säbener Strasse. In around 10 months, the party is hoping to set out again from the stadium, in a victory parade towards the central Marienplatz square - bearing the German championship shield.