Audi withdraws from DTM to focus on Formula E
Audi will leave the German Touring Car series (DTM) at the end of this year and concentrate fully on Formula E. “With this energy, we’re going to drive our transformation into a provider of sporty, sustainable electric mobility forward,” says Markus Duesmann, Chairman of the Board at AUDI.
“That’s why we’re also focusing our efforts on the race track and systematically competing for tomorrow’s ‘Vorsprung’ (lead)” said Duesmann. “Formula E offers a very attractive platform for this.” Audi also cites economic challenges resulting from the corona pandemic as factors in the decision.
The DTM withdrawal is one of Duesmann’s first high-profile decisions the former BMW board joined the board on 1 April. As the German site motorsport-total reports, the decision was also preceded by a disagreement within the Board of Management: In any case, the Motorsport Department was assigned to Audi Sport GmbH effective 1 June – and no longer to the Development Department. Board Member for Development Hans-Joachim Rothenpieler thus lost influence. As a result, Marketing Board Member Hildegard Wortmann is said to have gained clout as an advocate for electric cars. She is said to have increasingly spoken out in favour of Formula E and against the DTM.
One thing is clear: With Audi’s withdrawal, the DTM is probably on the brink of collapse. At the end of 2018, Mercedes-Benz had already withdrawn from the touring car racing series in favour of Formula E involvement. For 2019 (at relatively short notice) Aston Martin participated in the DTM with a hastily built race car. However, the British company already declared in January that the DTM programme would be terminated with immediate effect. Currently, BMW is the only manufacturer for 2021 – despite some guest races marketed as “dream races” together with the Japanese Super GT Series, none of the Japanese manufacturers has expressed interest in a DTM entry so far.
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After Audi had operated two large factory teams for years with the DTM and the hybrid racing cars for Le Mans and the Endurance World Championship WEC, the only thing left at the moment is its involvement in Formula E – and the customer sport programme for various GT racing series. Audi thus follows the line of its parent company Volkswagen, who announced some time ago that it would only focus on purely electric motorsport. “To complement it, we’re investigating other progressive motorsport formats for the future,” says Duesmann.
Duesmann left open which racing series Audi has in mind – there are not that many fully electric race options at the moment. In the World Rally Cross (WRX), the use of purely electric racing cars was recently postponed to 2022, but there, racing cars are only converted with a kit developed by Kreisel Electric. Last autumn, DTM marketer ITR had presented a concept for a purely electric racing series. Whether this will ever be implemented, however, is unclear.
With reporting from Sebastian Schaal, Germany