After many months of speculations, it’s now official: Audi Sport will pull out of DTM following the 2020 season.
It’s been on the cards since August 2018, where they aired some discomfort about the series, and put its organisation, ITR under a lot of pressure.
The announcement followed Mercedes-AMG pulling out of DTM at the end of 2018, with Audi putting out the ultimatum of a third constructor had to be entered at the start of the 2020 season, or they would be gone too.
R-Motorsport appeared for the 2019 season with four DTM cars, badged as Aston Martin cars, with Vantage car styling. It was basically built on Mercedes experience, since it was HWA building the cars and engines for them. HWA was running the Mercedes DTM programme for many years.
When R-Motorsport announced their departure in January 2020, it was expected for Audi to follow them. Instead, the German manufacturer was very quick in confirming the same 6 drivers as in 2019, with the privateer team WRT changing both drivers for the 2020 season.
Audi does state in today’s press release, that they would like to say a proper goodbye to the DTM series and the fans, and hopes for the 2020 season to be completed. The Coronavirus is also mentioned as one of the reasons why they are pulling out now, whether it’s true or not.
The focus for them will now be on Formula E, where they have been active since 2014. They had a Le Mans sportscar programme at that time too, which was shut down after the 2016 season.
Their aim will also be on selling a lot of GT2, GT3 and GT4 cars for privateers, which is a huge business for Audi Sport. They ended their TCR car sales after the 2019 season, since the VW Audi group focuses on the Cupra brand, including their entry to electric TCR racing.
The DTM has issued a statement, where Gerhard Berger, Chairman of ITR, uses quite strong wording towards Audi, with the tones of Audi putting the DTM series and BMW (who is the only remaining constructor in DTM), in a very difficult position regarding their future.
DTM initially started in 1984, with Group A similar cars as the basis. That escalated into the ’90s with technically advanced cars more towards prototypes, peaking in 1995 and 1996 with cars more adjustments and technical freedom than the Formula 1 cars at the time. That meant the collapse of the series, before DTM was reignited in 2000, with Audi, Mercedes and Opel competing. Opel pulled out following the 2005 season, leaving just Audi and Mercedes fighting until 2012, where BMW showed up.
Their 2020 schedule was hit by the COVID-19 pandemic too, with the planned start of the season in Belgium last weekend being postponed. They are currently aiming at 11-12 July at Norisring, but that would need Germany opening up very soon, so the track can be built. The season finale is currently scheduled for Monza on 14-15 November.