Audi Exits DTM Racing, Leaving BMW as Last Automaker Standing
Audi will leave the series after 2020 to focus on its Formula E efforts. Sound familiar?
Audi announced Monday that it will leave the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters series after this season to focus on Formula E. This leaves BMW as the sole manufacturer left in the German touring car series, putting DTM's future in jeopardy.
Audi said that some of this decision was due to the financial stress caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, Formula E's all-electric platform more closely aligns with the manufacturer's goal of selling more electrified cars in the near future. Audi wants 40 percent of its sales to be either plug-in hybrids or electric vehicles by 2025, Reuters notes.
DTM was understandably disappointed with Audi's withdrawal. Gerhard Berger, chairman of the series' co-sanctioning body ITR, stated that he hopes their remaining partners step up to keep the series alive:
"While we respect the [Audi] board’s position, the short-term nature of this announcement presents ITR, our partner BMW and our teams with a number of specific challenges."
"Given our common association, and the particular difficulties we all face during the COVID-19 pandemic, we would have hoped for a more united approach. This decision worsens the situation, and the future of the DTM now very much depends on how our partners and sponsors react to this decision."
ITR and the DMSB—Germany's motorsport federation—sanction DTM together.
Unless another manufacturer enters DTM, it will effectively become a BMW spec series, if not a good reason for fellow Formula E competitor BMW to leave as well. Mercedes-Benz already left DTM after the 2018 season to focus on Formula E, which worried Audi about the series' future some two years ago. At the time of Mercedes' departure, Audi's motorsport director stressed the need for DTM to attract a new manufacturer if it were to continue competing.
DTM has been trying to align more with Japan's Super GT series since 2010, but that has so far proven unsuccessful in reviving the once-popular racing league. The two series share a set of "Class 1" regulations and Super GT has numerous cars that fit that spec, however, DTM hasn't been successful in wooing one of those manufacturers over to run in their European-based series.
Audi has been competing in DTM since the series' resurgence in 2000.
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