DTM
The series
Audi vs BMW vs Mercedes

The DTM in its particular form is unique. It is the only racing series in the world that is exclusively dedicated to factory-backed teams. Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz are fielding a total of 18 cars – each car represents state-of-the-art technology and, as a result, is theoretically in contention for winning.

In 2015, the DTM largely reinvented itself. Since then, there have been two races per weekend, amounting to a double dose of action for the fans. Saturday and Sunday are separate race days, each with free practice, warm-up and qualifying sessions, and races. The motto is: “Keep it simple.” In qualifying, every driver has 20 minutes for delivering a fast lap and securing a good grid position.

2017 was seeing another major change. All three manufacturers were putting new cars on the grid to make the sport even more attractive. In addition, the new cars pose a greater challenge to the drivers. Aerodynamic downforce has been reduced by the regulations, engine power has increased to more than 500 HP and the softer tyres degrade faster in the race.

In addition, the tyres may no longer be preheated. This makes the initial laps following the start and a tyre change particularly thrilling. During the pit stops, only a total of eight mechanics may change the wheels. This makes the pit stops longer and more transparent for the spectators. All 18 races feature an identical format of 55 minutes, plus one lap including the tyre change.

The DTM is pursuing new avenues also in terms of presenting the starter field and its appearance in the paddock. Spectators are now able to peek into the pits of selected manufacturers.

From 2018, SAT.1 will exclusively cover the races of the popular touring-car series live in Germany. This means that the fans will be able to keep on watching the DTM races on a sports-orientated free-to-air station. The races will be broadcast under the well-established umbrella sports brand ‘ran’.

 

The car
An exciting race car - The Audi RS 5 DTM

Visually, the third-generation Audi RS 5 DTM clearly stands out from its two successful predecessor models. The track record of the previous-generation model sets benchmarks for the future. Having clinched ten victories in each of the last two seasons, it was the most successful DTM car in both years.

“For the first time, we developed a new DTM car in parallel with the production model”, says Head of Audi Motorsport Dieter Gass. “This underlines once again how closely motorsport and production work together at Audi.” At the same time as the production model, Audi Sport presented the DTM racing version of the Audi RS 5 Coupé at the Geneva Motor Show 2016. The new RS design language premieres in this model that features numerous modifications required by the regulations as well.

“In many areas of aerodynamics, we explored further detailed options”, says Project Leader Stefan Gugger. The restrictive DTM regulations allow the engineers the greatest latitude around the rear wheel arches. Accordingly, they have been trimmed for maximum downforce combined with utmost efficiency.

New as well is the rear wing, which now consists of two flaps. To increase the effectiveness of the Drag Reduction System (DRS), the entire wing is no longer lowered but, like in Formula 1, the top flap flattened – which is intended to produce even more overtaking maneuvers in DTM events.

The objective of the new regulations is to make the cars more challenging to handle in order to put greater emphasis on the drivers’ performance. Among other things, aerodynamic downforce of the DTM race cars has been reduced. Decisive here on all cars are modified geometries of the specification front splitters, underfloors and rear diffusers. Ride height has increased due to the regulations as well.

The four-litre V8 engine of the Audi RS 5 DTM delivers more than 500 HP. The suspension is now identical on all DTM cars. While this avoids costly further developments, the variety of set-up options has remained unchanged

 

The drivers
Nico Müller

Before the 2016 season, Audi’s youngest driver switched to Hans-Jürgen Abt’s team, with a fast and furious beginning. At the Hockenheim season opener, Müller clinched the top spot on the grid and first place in a race, scoring his first podium result. A victory at the Norisring, his first in the DTM, was the absolute highlight. Müller stays fit by cycling. “In the cold on a mountain bike and in the summer on a road bike,” says the youngster. In the DTM, Nico Müller drives car number 51, a number that he was previously fortunate with in karting. “My cousin used to have number 50 on his kart. When I became his teammate it was only logical to pick 51,” relates Müller whose hobby is juggling. “I won many kart races with this number and later the title in Formula Renault as well.” And in the DTM, the 51 seems to work too …

 

SPORTING CAREER

2004–2007 Kart

2006  2nd Swiss Kart Championship (Junior category)

2007  1st Bridgestone Kart Cup (KF3 category)

2008  5th Formula Renault 2.0 Switzerland, 3rd Italian Formula Renault Winter Championship, best rookie

2009  1st Formula Renault 2.0 Switzerland, 11th Formula Renault Euro Cup

2010  3rd GP3 Series, best European driver

2011  4th GP3 Series                          

2012  9th World Series by Renault 3.5

2013  5th World Series by Renault 3.5

2014  19th DTM (Audi RS 5 DTM)

2015  21st DTM (Audi RS 5 DTM), 1st Nürburgring 24 Hours (Audi R8 LMS)

2016  9th DTM (Audi RS 5 DTM), 1 victory

2017  12th DTM (Audi RS 5 DTM)

Robin Frijns

Robin Frijns recently became an Audi factory driver in the DTM. For the Dutchman it is a dream come true, which began during 2015 in the GT racing program of Audi Sport. In this interview, the 26-year-old looks back on his career and reveals his expectations for his rookie season in the DTM.

SPORTING CAREER

1999–2008  Kart, Belgian Cadet Champion 2004, French Junior Champion 2006
2009  3rd Formula BMW Europe, Rookie of the Year
2010  1st Formula BMW Europe, 14th Formula Renault Northern Europe
2011  1st Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup
2012  1st Formula Renault 3.5, Young Driver Test Formula 1 (Red Bull)
2013  Formula 1 test driver (Sauber), 15th GP2 Series
2014  Formula 1 test driver (Caterham)
2015  1st Blancpain GT Series (Audi R8 LMS), 2nd Blancpain Sprint Series (Audi R8 LMS), 6th Blancpain Endurance Series Pro Cup (Audi R8 LMS)
2016  12th Formula E, 7th Intercontinental GT Challenge (Audi R8 LMS), 10th Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup (Audi R8 LMS)
2017  13th Formula E, 1st Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup (Audi R8 LMS), 4th Blancpain GT Series (Audi R8 LMS)
2018  DTM (Audi RS 5 DTM), 1st Bathurst 12 Hours (Audi R8 LMS)

Milestones / Achievements

2000

ABT Sportsline tackles the DTM adventure as a privateer team. The Abt-Audi TT-R developed in Kempten in record time stands hardly a chance against the factory-backed competition by Opel and Mercedes-Benz in its first year but soon becomes the fans’ favourite.

2002

The squad causes a sensation: following initial victories in the 2001 season, Laurent Aiello and Team ABT Sportsline clinch the title in the team’s third DTM year. The Frenchman even wraps it up in a race before the finale, causing the Dutch tourist resort of Zandvoort to party all night long.

2004

Following four ‘privateering’ years Audi enters the DTM with a factory commitment in 2004 and ABT Sportsline becomes a factory team. The squad manages a brilliant comeback: Mattias Ekström becomes champion, Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline clinches the teams’ title and Audi the manufacturers’ classification.

2007

He did it again: Mattias Ekström clinches his second title. The spectators witness a captivating season. In the finale at Hockenheim three drivers still have chances of winning the title, including his teammate Martin Tomczyk. A third place in the race is enough for Ekström to win the championship.

2008

The 2008 season is dominated by ABT driver Timo Scheider. The German wins his first ever DTM race at Oschersleben and celebrates the championship title win at the end of the season. Scheider, who lives in Austria, finishes eight of eleven races on podium and clinches the title in style at the finale: by winning the race.

2009

On clinching their third consecutive title, Audi and ABT Sportsline go down in motorsport history. No other manufacturer has previously achieved a hat-trick. Again it is Timo Scheider who prevails against Mercedes star Gary Paffett in a gripping showdown at Hockenheim.

2011

While the former long-time ABT driver Martin Tomczyk wins the drivers’ title, ABT Sportsline celebrates victory in the teams’ classification, as Mattias Ekström and Mike Rockenfeller add four wins and three further trophies to a new chapter in the squad’s success story.

2014

Two DTM years without victories motivate ABT Sportsline to deliver top performances. Mattias Ekström can no longer be bumped from the top three spots following the first four rounds and with victories at Zandvoort and in the finale at Hockenheim secures second place overall in the drivers’ and the teams’ classifications.

2016

Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline is teams’ champion in DTM. The teams’ classification, for the fourth time after 2004, 2007 and 2011, went to Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline with Edoardo Mortara, Mattias Ekström and Mike Rockenfeller, who stood in for the new World Rallycross Champion Ekström in the finale at Hockenheim. In spite of five victories this season, Mortara missed the drivers’ title by a very narrow four-point margin.

Legends never sleep
It marks the end of an era: Mattias Ekström

After 17 years, 195 races, 23 victories and two championship titles, factory driver Mattias Ekström ends his DTM career, which means that Audi’s most successful DTM campaigner to date is leaving this racing series. In 2018, Ekström will concentrate on the factory-backed commitment of his team, EKS, in the World Rallycross Championship. The new member of Audi’s DTM driver squad is Dutchman Robin Frijns.

“This was one of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever had to make,” says Ekström. “The DTM was my life for a long time and my heart will always continue to beat for the DTM in the future too. However, I’ve also invested a lot of time and energy in my rallycross team in recent years. Without the dual program I’m now able to fully concentrate on one series again and have more freedom again for my family and my children. I’ll continue to compete for my own team and am clearing the way in the DTM for a promising youngster.”

Mattias Ekström began his DTM career in 2001 at the age of 22 in the Audi customer team of ABT Sportsline. In 2004, he raced for the first time as a factory driver and instantly clinched his first DTM title. In 2007, title number two followed and last season he just barely missed another overall victory. Always at his side: Audi Sport, ABT Sportsline and partner Red Bull in whose HANGAR-7 at the Salzburg airport Ekström now announced his decision as well.

Alongside the DTM, Ekström has been competing in the World Rallycross Championship with his own team, EKS, since 2014. As early as in his third year, he secured the world championship title and, as in the DTM, finished last season as runner-up champion. Ekström describes his most recent years as a major dual effort which the 39-year-old no longer wants to shoulder. “Mattias informed us early of his wish to contest only one series in the 2018 season,” says Head of Audi Motorsport Dieter Gass. “Obviously, Mattias is extremely valuable and important for both projects. That’s why this decision was not an easy one for either of us.”

Ekström leaves a gap in the DTM squad which makes it possible for 26-year-old Robin Frijns to be promoted to the ranks of an Audi factory driver. The Dutchman has been active in customer racing for Audi since 2015 and comes from single-seater racing. In a junior driver evaluation in Spain, he gathered initial experience at the wheel of an Audi DTM race car in 2013. “Robin left a strong impression with us even back then and we haven’t lost sight of him ever since,” says Head of Audi Motorsport Dieter Gass. “At the wheel of the Audi R8 LMS, he showed his abilities and is doing a very good job in our Formula E simulator as well. That it’s possible to battle for the title in the DTM even as a rookie was demonstrated by René Rast last year. Robin has great potential and Audi is in a very good position in terms of its driver lineup for the 2018 DTM. We’re convinced of this.”

The remainder of Audi’s DTM driver line-up will be the same as last year’s: Loïc Duval (F), Jamie Green (GB), Nico Müller (CH), René Rast (D) and Mike Rockenfeller (D) have been confirmed as drivers by the automobile manufacturer. This is the team Audi won all three titles (drivers’, manufacturers’ and teams’) with in the 2017 season.

DTM Race calendar 2018                                                                                                                                                                       

 

4.–6. May                     Hockenheim (D)

18.–20. May                 Lausitzring (D)

1.–3. June                    Budapest (H)

22.–24. June                Norisring (D)

13.–15. July                 Zandvoort (NL)

11.–12. August            Brands Hatch (GB)

24.–26. August            Misano (I)

7.–9. September          Nürburgring (D)

21.–23. September      Spielberg (A)

12.–14. October          Hockenheim (D)

 

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