Audi: DTM returning to two manufacturers "difficult to imagine"
Audi motorsport boss Dieter Gass says it is “difficult to imagine” that the DTM could continue with just two manufacturers following Mercedes' impending exit.
Mercedes, Audi and BMW have faced off in the category since 2012, but it has been announced recently that the Silver Arrows will depart the DTM to compete in Formula E at the end of next year.
In the six seasons prior to BMW's 2012 arrival, the German touring car series had been contested only by Audi and Mercedes cars – and the series' new chief Gerhard Berger has recently said he “doesn't see any reason” why DTM couldn't be a two-manufacturer competition again.
Gass, however, believes it is imperative that the series attracts at least one new manufacturer to replace Mercedes.
“That’s what being assessed right now, to try and find at least one replacement, possibly more coming in,” he said. “We know for some years now there have been attempts to attract other manufacturers.
“Gerhard Berger is quite new, brought an interesting new perspective to DTM. I would hope the chances of bringing in a new manufacturer are a little bit higher.”
Asked whether DTM could carry on with just two marques, Gass said: “We have seen the championship with two manufacturers in the past, Audi and Mercedes. Having said that, in the current situation it’s difficult to imagine it. “
When Opel backed out of the series back in 2005, Mercedes and Audi increased their line-ups from eight cars to 10 to fill up the grid.
But asked whether the remaining manufacturers could add more entries to the current six-car rosters, Gass said: “That’s only one aspect of the situation. It’s definitely one aspect, but generally the situation is something that’s really hard to imagine.”
Gass admitted that, even though none of the DTM's manufacturers had committed themselves to continuing past 2018, Mercedes' decision to withdraw came as a surprise.
“Back in 2015 we had discussions about the future of the DTM, basically everybody committed until the end of 2018. It was outlined as well in the middle of 2017 have discussions about whether or not to carry on.
“Nobody gave any guarantees after ’18. So there was no commitment. But if I look at the discussions we had at the start of this season, about how to proceed in ’19, about engines and so on, Mercedes was extremely interested and cooperative.
“So with these discussions, I was quite optimistic that they would be carrying on as well.”
As for Audi's own plans, Gass reiterated that the Ingolstadt marque was keen to retain a presence in touring cars and said: “Currently there is only DTM at this level of touring car racing. In the future you’ll need to see what comes up and what might be there. But currently, only DTM.
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