The German Touring Car (DTM) series will have a new manufacturer join the competition in 2005, ITR chairman Hans Werner Aufrecht revealed this week. Currently Audi, Mercedes and Opel race in the DTM, although Opel is withdrawing after the 2005 season.
"There will be a fourth manufacturer in the DTM in 2005," said Aufrecht. "But we will leave it to the company itself to make the announcement." Reports in the German media suggest that British carmaker Rover is the new challenger.
Opel is leaving the DTM due to budget cuts by parent company General Motors. The manufacturer will field four cars next season, a reduction from the seven it ran this year, with drivers Laurent Aiello, Manuel Reuter, Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Marcel Fässler.
This means that Timo Scheider, Peter Dumbreck and Jeroen Bleekemolen, who raced for Opel in 2004, are currently out of a drive. Not knowing for sure who the new manufacturer is does not give any hints to which drivers they may want, but perhaps there's hope for some of those without a seat for 2005.
Audi has confirmed eight cars for next season: Team Abt Sportsline will consist of current DTM champion Mattias Ekström, Martin Tomczyk, Tom Kristensen and new signing Allan McNish. Joest Racing will field stalwart Christian Abt and newcomers Rinaldo Capello, Pierre Kaffer and Frank Stippler.
Mercedes has yet to announce a full line up. Jamie Green has been confirmed and the manufacturer is expected to keep Jean Alesi, Bernd Scheneider and Gary Paffett in the HWA squad. This year Mercedes fielded four new C-Class cars and four year-old vehicles.