Last year, when BMW returned to the series to take on the Mercedes and Audi teams, they not only kept pace at each and every race, they earned the coveted championship title. All three manufacturers won races and earned podiums in 2012 in the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters.
The rules and regulations are written in such a way that each manufacturer has equal chance in performing well. This equality is basically demanded upon by the big three because, at the end of the day, this is a huge platform for them to sell road cars.
It was a remarkable title fight and went down to the wire. Bruno Spengler took his first drivers’ title, and was extremely happy that he had made the switch to BMW from Mercedes. Good timing.
In fact, one of the young guns set the fastest lap on the last day of testing. Marco Wittmann has moved up from his role of test and development driver for BMW last year and is already making waves. His teammate Timo Glock is likely to prove he is F1’s loss and DTM/BMW’s gain.
On the first day of testing at the Circuit de Catalunya, the teams were fine-tuning their cars, and mainly testing the DRS (Drag Reduction System) -- yes folks F1 is not the only series to use the DRS system, which allows the drivers to open a rear-wing flap to increase their top speed temporarily to aid in passing. It was second-year Mercedes driver Robert Wickens who set the fast lap time but he was only 0.052 of a second faster than Martin Tomczyk in his BMW.
Day two again saw Mercedes on top of the timing sheets, but Gary Paffett was a mere 0.026 of a second ahead of Augusto Farfus Jr. While two Mercedes drivers did top the first two days, the gaps between them and their rivals again proved that the DTM’s rules and regulations allow for close racing.
On day three, it was Audi’s turn, with former Mercedes driver Jamie Green proving he could make the switch to his new ride for 2013 quickly. Again, the second quickest time was extremely close. Mercedes rookie Pascal Wehrlein (another youngster, see the pattern here?) was second by just 0.065 seconds.
With Paffett posting the fastest lap over the four-day test, what was actually proven was the closeness of the fast lap times. Of course this was only a test, but it is a good indication that the new season will be just as exciting as the past years. The DRS will add to the show, without a doubt.
“The fans want to see overtaking maneuvers and both the DRS and the option tires will be helpful to achieve this goal,” said Audi driver Timo Scheider.
All of this close racing has demanded a lot of attention outside of Europe, where the series was focused for many years. DTM recently signed an agreement with the IMSA sanctioning body for the 2014 unified sports car series in North America. A partnership with the Japanese Super GT series is also included in the deal.
It seems overnight, the German touring car series is looking to take over the world.
DTM rights holder and promoter ITR e.V. Chairman Hans Werner Aufrecht commented on the new deal and when asked about American manufacturers coming on board in the future: "We already have had conversations with the three big American manufacturers. Now we have to offer these colleagues the opportunity to take a look behind the DTM curtains. This certainly will happen around the DTM season kick-off, on 5th May at Hockenheim."
Just imagine what the future could hold if the powers that be at DTM (and IMSA) can ensure such equality between the likes of BMW, Audi, Mercedes, Ford, Cadillac, Dodge, Nissan, Toyota and Honda. No small feat, but come 2015/16 the world could see an amazing array of machinery competing at a huge variety of tracks where racing is close and exciting. Stay tuned.