With Mercedes Benz leaving the DTM at the end of the current season, Audi have laid out their conditions to continue beyond 2019.
That is set to include the entry into competition of a third brand as a minimum with only Audi and BMW currently slated to compete into 2019. Aside from the exit of Mercedes Benz next year the DTM will see the full adoption of four-cylinder turbo engines for both manufacturers with the concurrent adoption of ‘Class One’ regulations presenting the possibility of fielding DTM cars in the GT500 class of the Japanese Super GT Championship and vice versa.
2019 is also set to see the start of a planned programme of joint races as the two organising bodies attempt to forge an alliance to bolster their products and add international flavour to two high-profile, but ultimately national, championships.
Head of Audi Motorsport Dieter Gass: “In the DTM, thanks to forward-thinking technologies like the new turbo engines, we continue to see major potential. Concerning the third manufacturer this will require, I have great confidence in DTM boss Gerhard Berger bringing this competitor to the grid for 2020 at the latest.”
Whilst the language is encouraging, there is steel in the message. Find a third manufacturer to commit, or Audi will not continue.
If the cavalry are coming it’s likely to be either a commitment from a Japanese manufacturer, with Lexus the most often touted possibility or a new entrant. The tale of a potential Aston Martin-badged entry has been given much attention, on these pages and beyond, but it is clear that whatever is driving any potential programme it is more to do with the survivability of DTM than any financial commitment from Aston Martin.
Public statements from Helmut Markko in recent months have fed suggestions that an alliance might be drawn which could involve HWA and AF Racing, parent company of GT team R.Motorsport in a DTM entry. But more recent comments both from AF and from Aston Martin have made it clear that there is no active programme and no commitment at present.
“We are a young, fast growing racing team and we are always looking at the possible directions for the team,” said Florian Kamelger, co-owner of AF Racing. “I always say that DTM is, for me, is one of the greatest series. DTM is pure racing.
“To answer your question regarding Aston Martin going in to DTM there have been rumours around for some weeks after an interview that Dr Markko gave. We are interested in many series, DTM as well but nothing concrete there.
“The joint venture with HWA is not meant to be a vehicle to go into DTM for us, the joint venture with HWA is meant to be, and will be, an innovation partnership in different aspects. DTM could be a potential outcome of that but nothing concrete has been decided.”
Aston Martin’s David King meanwhile has also been non-committal recently:
“There have been discussions in the media about DTM, but we’ve made no decisions at all.”
Neither men then are saying ’no’ but there is clearly work to be done by Gerhard Berger and his ITR team if the 2020 DTM is to continue, with Audi, or indeed at all.