Audi has a clear strategic aim. The brand with the four rings is to become the premium automobile segment’s ‘number one.’ And in the DTM, Audi has firmly set its sights on being ‘number one’ as well. After winning the manufacturers’ title last season, the drivers’ title that last went to Audi in 2013 is to be recaptured this year.
In the fierce competition with BMW and Mercedes-Benz, Audi Sport relies on time-tested and familiar assets: the same three teams, the same eight drivers and exactly the same Audi RS 5 DTM that at the end of 2014 was the car to be beaten.
The further development of the car in winter was prohibited by the regulations. Therefore, Audi Sport focused on perfecting the existing package.The drivers completed a new mental and physical training program. The three Audi Sport Teams meticulously prepared for the DTM’s new weekend format and the changed procedures. Last but not least, the engineers at Audi Sport scrutinized every minute detail of the Audi RS 5 DTM in order to track down existing potential.
“During the pre-season tests we received positive feedback from our drivers,” says Dieter Gass, Head of DTM at Audi Sport. “We optimally prepared but our competitors, obviously, did not stand idly by either. The competitiveness in the DTM was extremely fierce even last year. This will be the same again in 2015. The form on the day of the event will be crucial. This is exactly what the DTM is about.”
The format of the race weekends is completely new. The number of events has been reduced from ten to nine. Instead, each DTM weekend now features two races: one on Saturday and one on Sunday. “As a result, the fans will get clearly more DTM per weekend than before,” says Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich.
The fans can look forward to two different race formats. On Saturday, they will be seeing a 40-minute race without a pit stop. On Sunday, the race duration will be 60 minutes – with a pit stop. The option tires that were confusing to many spectators have been eliminated and the battle for grid positions in qualifying has been reduced to 20 minutes per race. “Our maxim was: keep it simple,” says Dieter Gass. “It’s important to us that the fans understand the races, as this will make spectating more enjoyable for them.”
Germany continues to be ‘Home of DTM’ in 2015. Six of the nine events will be held in Audi’s domestic market in which the brand grew against the general trend and recorded a 2.2-percent increase in deliveries last year. In addition, there will be visits to Austria, to the Dutch North Sea Coast and to Russia – three venues that Audi Sport has fond memories of.
On each race track of the 2015 DTM, one of the eight current Audi DTM drivers is reflected on the list of previous winners at least once – and in some cases several times. In Mattias Ekström (S), Mike Rockenfeller (D) and Timo Scheider (D) three former DTM Champions form the spearhead of the Audi driver line-up. Jamie Green (GB) and Edoardo Mortara (I) are multiple race winners. Miguel Molina (E) and Adrien Tambay (F) have previously clinched pole positions and podium places. Youngster Nico Müller (CH) in 2014, his first DTM year, immediately scored points and made a strong showing on setting a fastest time in this year’s initial pre-season tests.
“I believe we have the strongest and the most balanced driver line-up in the DTM,” says Dieter Gass. “And in terms of the teams we’re superbly positioned as well.” The total of eight Audi RS 5 DTM cars will again be fielded by the long-standing Audi Sport Teams Abt Sportsline, Phoenix and Rosberg that have clinched seven of the nine DTM titles so far for Audi.
Not only due to the DTM itself, visits to the 2015 DTM events will be a rewarding experience for Audi fans. At five of the German rounds and at the event in Austria the new Audi Sport TT Cup that provides international junior drivers the opportunity to enter motorsport with Audi, will be contesting its inaugural season.