Audi teams rule out running in DTM as privateers

Audi DTM teams have warned it would be too expensive for them to compete in the series as privateers following the German manufacturer’s withdrawal at the end of 2020.

Audi teams rule out running in DTM as privateers

Audi announced on Monday that it would pull the plug on its DTM programme after two decades, leaving BMW as the only manufacturer and threatening the existence of the series.

However, shortly after the announcement, Assen race promoter Lee van Dam claimed he had heard from ITR that Audi would continue to supply Class One engines to teams, theoretically allowing the current formula to continue beyond 2020.

Van Dam told Motorsport.com: “From ITR, they called me Monday morning and said, ‘Lee, there's a bad message coming out at 5pm but it's not as bad as it looks. It's actually just like Mercedes would withdraw from Formula 1 as a factory team, but continue to supply engines to Williams, for example. That's how you have to see it.’”

However, Audi teams insist there have been no talks with the Ingolstadt brand about a supply of engines beyond 2020, while ITR and Audi have refused to comment on the situation.

"If this was Audi's plan, they would probably have approached their own teams first," Abt team boss Thomas Biermaier told Motorsport.com. "That didn't happen, so I assume that there's nothing to it. But if such a possibility existed, you'd have to analyse it."

Team Rosberg boss Kimmo Liimatainen believes even if an agreement could be reached with Audi, it would simply prove too expensive for teams to compete in the championship without any factory support.

Liimatainen has past experience of running a privateer team, having fielded a Lamborghini Huracan GT3 in the ADAC Masters series in 2018 before withdrawing from the category after a single season.

“I think this is very difficult," said Liimatainen. "I haven't gone through the figures in detail yet, but would spontaneously say that this is simply too expensive. 

“I've seen what a battle of materials we had in GT3 at times. And that was only GT3. Class One is even more extreme."

He added that costs in DTM are "simply too high, unless you have a proper sponsor, but who has a proper sponsor today?

"Sure, you may find something, but the next question is whether the others will find something as well. If so, is there a series at all?”

Liimatainen’s words were echoed by Vincent Vosse, whose WRT team is believed to have spent around five million euros to run a two-car privateer team in 2019.

"It's easy to say that you simply take a car from Audi and use it. But who pays for it?” Vosse told Motorsport.com. 

"The engine is probably the most expensive thing in the DTM these days. It's still new. Although it's frozen, it's still in development.

"If you don't have a manufacturer behind you to develop this engine and cut costs, you don't stand a chance. That's an important aspect that we should not forget."

However, according to Team Rosberg's Liimatainen, even WRT’s financial model may not work in 2021, as drivers may no longer be willing to pay anything up to a million euros for a seat without the lure of a factory drive in the future.

Liimatainen explained: "The problem is that with WRT it only works because the drivers have the desire and the perspective: ‘If I'm good, I'll become a factory driver!’ But if this perspective no longer exists, is that still interesting [for them]?”

Read Also:

Phoenix team boss Ernst Moser believes the DTM will ultimately have to ditch its current cars to keep the series alive.

"I do think that there are still chances to keep this championship and this platform alive,” Moser told Motorsport.com. "But I don't think it's possible with Class One cars anymore.

"First you have to get these cars. I don't know if there has been any thought about putting the cars into private hands. We need to talk about that. But even then, the costs would be quite high."

Additional reporting by Ronald Vording

shares
comments
The timing of Audi’s DTM exit decision explained
Previous article

The timing of Audi’s DTM exit decision explained

Next article

Could GTE be the answer to the DTM's survival dilemma?

Could GTE be the answer to the DTM's survival dilemma?
Load comments
How the DTM's shambolic finale poses awkward future questions Prime

How the DTM's shambolic finale poses awkward future questions

OPINION: The scenes at the Norisring as Mercedes used blatant team orders to secure the first DTM title of the new GT3 era totally undermined the credibility of the championship. But as well as overshadowing the season, it also presents uncomfortable questions to series bosses about the direction it is headed in.

DTM
Oct 12, 2021
How Audi's new DTM flagbearer is closing on his "childhood dream" Prime

How Audi's new DTM flagbearer is closing on his "childhood dream"

Having learned the ropes in GT3 alongside Rene Rast, Kelvin van der Linde is in line to take up the three-time champion's baton as Audi's new DTM king. From humble origins in South Africa, it's been a remarkable journey so far for the current series leader, but he knows that the 2021 title is a long way from settled just yet.

DTM
Sep 18, 2021
The number-crunching behind the new-look DTM's equalisation drive Prime

The number-crunching behind the new-look DTM's equalisation drive

Switching to GT3 regulations marked a fresh start for the DTM in 2021, but it has also drawn a line in the sand against other series using similar cars by engaging AVL Racing to develop a bespoke Balance of Performance system. Here’s how it works.

DTM
Jul 23, 2021
The initial verdict on DTM's move to GT3 cars Prime

The initial verdict on DTM's move to GT3 cars

OPINION: Facing collapse last year, the DTM has shifted its philosophy from a championship for silhouette-based touring cars to GT machines not too dissimilar to those racing across multiple series worldwide. But despite some initial BoP-based teething troubles, there were some pleasant findings as the 'new DTM' got underway at Monza

DTM
Jun 22, 2021
Why Albon has his work cut out in the new-look DTM Prime

Why Albon has his work cut out in the new-look DTM

The DTM moves into its bold new GT3 era with welcome support from Red Bull, which enters two AF Corse-run Ferraris. That includes one for ex-F1 driver Alex Albon, who’s determined to make a success of his GT switch

DTM
Jun 17, 2021
The slow-burner threatening to unseat Audi's DTM king Prime

The slow-burner threatening to unseat Audi's DTM king

It's taken him a while to emerge as a consistent title challenger, but in the final year of DTM's Class One ruleset, Nico Muller has smoothed the rough edges and has double champion stablemate Rene Rast working harder than ever to keep up in the title race.

DTM
Oct 14, 2020
Does 2000 hold the answers to the DTM's current crisis? Prime

Does 2000 hold the answers to the DTM's current crisis?

It's 20 years since the DTM roared back into life at a packed Hockenheim with a back-to-basics approach as the antidote to its high-tech past. Now it's on its knees again, so is it time to recall the lessons learned in 2000?

DTM
May 28, 2020
Ranking the 10 best Audi DTM drivers Prime

Ranking the 10 best Audi DTM drivers

Audi last week announced it would be exiting the DTM at the end of 2020, bringing the curtain down on 20 years of continuous participation since the series' reboot in 2000.

DTM
May 5, 2020