Editor’s note: DTM has released a statement on Audi’s withdrawal. The statement is at the bottom of the post. Mercedes-Benz had previously pulled out in 2018 leaving only BMW and Aston Martin. Will the series survive?
- Involvement in DTM touring car racing series not to be extended after 2020 season
- Audi CEO Markus Duesmann: “Also focusing our efforts on the race track and systematically competing for tomorrow’s ‘Vorsprung’”
On its way to becoming a provider of premium mobility with a carbon-neutral footprint, Audi is realigning the brand’s motorsport program: The four rings will not extend their commitment in the DTM touring car racing series beyond the 2020 season. The management board of AUDI AG made this decision also in light of the economic challenges due to the corona pandemic and communicated it to ITR e.V., the DTM’s umbrella organization, this Monday. Consequently, the successful involvement in Formula E and in customer racing will be taking center stage in Audi’s future motorsport activities. The brand has been represented in Formula E ever since the popular fully electric racing series was started in 2014. With 41 trophies, Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler has been the most successful Formula E team over the years. Off the race track, Audi is planning to generate about 40 percent of its sales with electric cars and plug-in-hybrids by 2025.
“Audi has shaped the DTM and the DTM has shaped Audi. This demonstrates what power lies in motorsport – technologically and emotionally,” says Markus Duesmann, Chairman of the Board of Management of AUDI AG. “With this energy, we’re going to drive our transformation into a provider of sporty, sustainable electric mobility forward. That’s why we’re also focusing our efforts on the race track and systematically competing for tomorrow’s ‘Vorsprung.’” Formula E offers a very attractive platform for this. To complement it, we’re investigating other progressive motorsport formats for the future.”
Audi looks back on an extremely successful past in DTM. Having scored 23 championship titles, including eleven driver titles, plus 114 victories, 345 podium finishes, 106 pole positions and 112 fastest laps, Audi shaped the DTM from 1990 to 1992 and from 2000 onwards. With three of three possible championship titles, numerous podiums and many other records, 2019 has so far been the most successful DTM season in the company’s history.
Audi would like to continue these successes in the 2020 season and bid farewell to the DTM fans with a successful title defense in all three championships. “We’re hoping that this currently difficult situation will improve soon and that we’ll still be able to contest a few DTM races this year,” says Member of the Board for Development Hans-Joachim Rothenpieler. “The fans would deserve this, and so would the ITR, our drivers as well as our teams and partners, who will now have adequate advance notice to reposition themselves for the time after 2020. Successful motorsport is – and will continue to be – an important element of Audi’s DNA.”
“Today is a difficult day for motorsport in Germany and across Europe. I deeply regret Audi’s decision to withdraw from the DTM after the 2020 season. While we respect the 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. Nevertheless, I fully expect Audi to undertake its planned exit properly, responsibly and in full partnership with ITR. My commitment remains to the year ahead, and to ensuring we provide our hundreds of thousands of fans with a thrilling and competitive season. But, as soon as possible, I also want to create planning security for our participating teams, sponsors and everybody whose job depends on the DTM.”
Gerhard Berger, Chairman ITR e. V.