Audi withdrawal to leave BMW as DTM’s only manufacturer in 2021

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Germany’s premier touring car championship, the DTM, has suffered another blow as Audi has announced it will pull out of the series at the end of the year.

Just two years ago the series boasted three of Germany’s premier brands. Mercedes withdrew at the end of the season, but Aston Martin arrived in its place for 2019.

However Aston Martin left after a single, uncompetitive season, and Audi’s departure is set to leave BMW as the only manufacturer on the grid in 2021.

Audi announced its decision stating its intention to become “a provider of premium mobility with a carbon-neutral footprint”. Like Mercedes and BMW, the brand is also active in Formula E, which “will be taking center stage in Audi’s future motorsport activities”.

“Audi has shaped the DTM and the DTM has shaped Audi,” said Audi chairman Markus Duesmann. “This demonstrates what power lies in motorsport – technologically and emotionally. With this energy, we’re going to drive our transformation into a provider of sporty, sustainable electric mobility forward.”

Referencing the company’s slogan ‘Vorsprung Durch Technik’ (“lead by technology”), Dusemann added: “That’s why we’re also focusing our efforts on the race track and systematically competing for tomorrow’s ‘Vorsprung.’

“Formula E offers a very attractive platform for this. To complement it, we’re investigating other progressive motorsport formats for the future.”

Like other motor racing series, the DTM is currently on hold due to the global pandemic.

“We’re hoping that this currently difficult situation will improve soon and that we’ll still be able to contest a few DTM races this year,” said member of the board for development Hans-Joachim Rothenpieler.

“The fans would deserve this, and so would [series promoter] the ITR, our drivers as well as our teams and partners, who will now have adequate advance notice to reposition themselves for the time after 2020. Successful motorsport is – and will continue to be – an important element of Audi’s DNA.”

The DTM has explored a tie-up with Japan’s Super GT series, and the two jointly held two events last year. Honda, Nissan and Lexus each sent a single car to the DTM’s season finale at the Hockenheimring.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 19 comments on “Audi withdrawal to leave BMW as DTM’s only manufacturer in 2021”

    1. Audi announced its decision stating its intention to become “a provider of premium mobility with a carbon-neutral footprint”.

      I always wondered why combustion engine motorsports is not investing in carbon-neutral synthetic fuels. I mean synthetic fuels created from CO2 capture and wind/solar energy.
      Creating such fuels will be very inefficient, but it allows current manufacturers to stay in these sports and invest in the technology as it will help them to sell combustion engines for longer, and fuel all existing cars for many years to come (if they ever get the cost down to a reasonable level per litre).

        1. Thanks for the link, @DieterRencken.
          I missed that article; as always a great read.

          I’m glad F1 is looking at fuel alternatives which are not biofuels (starving people) or simple carbon offsets.

      1. @coldfly the VAG group has adopted for quite some time a pseudo-ambientalistic approach to things, they say it is all for the environment, to give a good exemple, but they don’t really care

        DTM started to see options on how to change its current formula, they got Audi leaving.

        What they are doing is simple. Cutting costs, increasing their profits by selling high emition vehicles (SUVs, I can’t even count how many the group has by now) and developing “green cars” that are so expensive only those that want to make a statement are able to afford them

        If they care in the slighest, and they know people will still buy combustion engined cars, they would present better options, but why sell an A4 when you can call it Q5 and have two times the profit?

        1. @johnmilk A bit odd that comment of yours. Why pick on VAG? All “legacy” luxury auto makers are pretty much like this. I don’t know if you have noticed, but consumers in the very important US market have been barely buying cars (as in sedans and hatchbacks) for the past few years while SUVs and crossovers have been selling like hot cokes. That is why you have vehicles like the Q5.

          Now I don’t agree with VAG’s motorsport policy since 2016 – in fact I’m disappointed. Leaving the WEC entirely (as messed up as the series was/still is) and especially leaving the WRC was a huge let down, and I think that FE is a gimmicky green billboard for right now. But how exactly was the DTM going to move forward and how exactly was Audi standing in its way? I also think DTM has some other issues aside from its carbon footprint.

    2. Reminds me of British Touring Car racing in the 80’s when there was significant manufacturer involvement. Remember Tom Walkinshaw’s Volvo estate cars?

      However as time went on the manufacturers who won the championships decided they had squeezed as much publicity as they could from the series exposure and those that didn’t win decided to spend their marketing budgets elsewhere.

      End result, manufacturer involvement disappeared and the series sank into a glorified clubman championship.

      The good news is that after a period in the doldrums the Touring Car championship regained strength and is now a successful series which hopefully will be reflected at some stage with the DTM.

    3. Why can’t they still run ex-works Audi’s, Mercs, Astons, etc all as privateers ??

      Is is pretty much the end for the DTM in it’s current format.

      It’s the ITC all over again (anyone remember THAT !!)

      1. Probably because DTM cars are too costly to run compared with GTs (3 & 4) & TCR..

      2. Is is pretty much the end for the DTM in it’s current format.

        Good riddance. May we can finally get a series involving actual Touring Cars again.

    4. So may I assume rising participation costs and ICE relevancy pushed Audi out of the series? Didn’t rising costs kill DTM’s predecessor ITC back in the 1990’s?

      1. I think it’s got to be ICE relevancy.
        Who’s putting any work into making a new ICE?
        It’s all over as far as I can see.
        Effort is switching to better battery technology and … well.. better battery technology.

        The manufacturers are running from LARGE fines for putting out too much CO2 this year.
        I think they’ve moved on…

        F1 needs a plan…

      2. @photogcw it did kill off that series, and some were drawing parallels with the ambitions that DTM has had for some years with the ambitions it had back then with the ITC back then.

        Costs have been a major issue and a big driver behind the attempts of DTM to bring about technological convergence with the Super GT series, with the two series sharing a common survival cell, transmission and suspension parts. Part of that was cost sharing, and part of it was that DTM had hoped to merge the two series to give it more global reach (i.e. that Japanese manufacturers could compete in Europe and vice versa), although that never came to fruition.

        Unfortunately, it seems that DTM has fallen into a pretty poor position – being too much of a niche sport to generate significant sponsorship, but that same niche design meant that the cars were expensive to design and build. Add to that the international ambitions that the series had, and you end up with a series that offers poor value for money that makes it uneconomical to run.

        1. @anon I would say the cars are not just expensive because the DTM is a niche sport, but that they have also become too sophisticated for a series like this. Someone once said the DTM should be the German equivalent of NASCAR, yet the cars have been getting to be too much like late 90s LMGT1s

    5. Looks like ADAC TCR will become Germany’s premier touring car series unless ITR have another solution..

    6. I’ve often felt that the biggest issue with the ‘new’ DTM is that it’s become a silhouette series rather than an actual touring car series & as such was always reliant on manufacturer’s building bespoke chassis specifically for it.

      Had it been a proper touring car series running race modified road based cars not only would cost’s likely be lower but it would also perhaps made it easier for additional manufacturer’s to enter as well as created the opportunity for some true privateer outfits to join.

    7. Is traditional auto racing coming to an end?

      1. Gavin Campbell
        28th April 2020, 9:11

        No – Auto Racing has always evolved, different fuels, engine configurations, chassis, aero, safety etc. etc. there isn’t any such thing as “traditional auto racing”. You can define some arbatray meter like “combustion engine” but like safety the world has to move on to better alternatives. Racing has always changed looking for the better – better speeds, better grip, better saftey, better fuels.

        That race along with those fantastic nutters that want to pilot things at the fastest possible speed will not go away.

    8. The way DTM has gone for a long time has kind of killed itself with the super high spec racing cars, money obviously isnt there to support that kind of development and running cost. I think it was a good thing, hopefully the racing can materialize in some other more interesting way.

    9. Sad to see the DTM in such decline. I for one would not walk across the street to go to a battery powered car race, these things sound like sewing machines, no soul. The ITC cars were amazing and more tech than F1 cars of the day. I remember the Cliff Opel (Manuel Reuters) have a sliding weight balance. In hard braking for a corner, the weight slide back to the rear of the car to settle the cars rear end with additional weight.

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