Three motorsport racers, three times big emotions. Said emotions from these actually supercool racers clearly show that DTM is just a lot more fun in 2018. Things are really tight at the moment at the international popular touring car series made in Germany. This was already clear during qualifying: there was just an average gap of 1.038 seconds between the first and second position during ten out of twenty DTM-runs.
And during the first ten races of the season, there have been six different winners: René Rast (Audi), Timo Glock, Marco Wittmann (both BMW), Edoardo Mortara, Paul Di Resta and the current league leader Gary Paffet (Mercedes). Almost everyone had a strong battle to fight until they arrived at the finishing line. Additionally, there was a lot of jockeying behind the scenes which was and still is a lot of fun for the drivers and the fans.
TOTAL BACKSTAGE THUNDER
But things did not only go well for the people on the stands of the Hockenheim-, Lausitz-, Hungaro-, Noris- or Zandvoort-racetrack, since the paddock truly deserves the name “fan-village”. Behind the boxes you get that sudden feeling of being right inside a rock festival or at a soccer fan-mile: Delicious food and drinks, even some comfortable lounge furniture to rest and over all a total backstage thunder.
This includes interview-courses and autograph session with every one of the 18 pilots, a terrace for the fans, a sneak behind the scenes of the teams, race management, technical approval, tire deliveries, track hikes, visits at the pit lane – motor sports at eye level and in reach. The latest DTM-slogan “loud and close“ is consequently being implemented. Under the leadership of former Formula One star Gerhard Berger they managed to develop the already spectator-friendly concept of the DTM even further.
Changes have been made to additionally attract even more fans aged 14 to 49 towards the successful and popular touring car series since they are most likely to buy the new serial cars from Audi, BMW and Mercedes and their sponsor’s products. Additionally, this is the exact same group DTM wants in front of the television. Currently, the quota of viewers aged 14 to 49 is highly rising compared to the year 2017. In total, 650.000 viewers in average watched the first ten races aired on the latest DTM-television-partner channel SAT.1.
Adding the channels ORF and MySports, who first started their own livestreams for Austria and Switzerland in 2018, the DTM umbrella organization ITR says that quotas are as good as back when DTM was aired on the ARD, the biggest public TV-channel in Germany. This is definitely more than they had expected after the first switch in the channel that airs the races after 18 years.
NEW RULES, EVEN BETTER RACING
SAT.1 manages to present the DTM in a fresher and cheekier way as the races are more exciting than they have been for a long time. This was also enabled by the new rules set for 2018. Aerodynamics have been standardized and abandoning the controversial performance weights made the competition a lot more better. And even Audi fully joined the competition after its most successful DTM result ever, after struggling from the start. Why? Audi also had to vote for the rule change for the standardized aerodynamics and had to give up their heavily earned advantages by that.
This is exacerbated by the fact that the output that has been reduced by a quarter also has a major impact on the chassis tuning and the tire performance. And the chassis additionally allows less configuration options. This is why Audi needed more time to adapt their last year’s champion car, the Audi RS5 DTM, to the new rules. But the first Audi seasonal win by René Rast in Zandvoort encourages them and stimulates their ambition.
ABT SET UP STRONGER AND NEW
Especially the Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline from Kempten, one of the DTM operations teams of Audi is looking forward for a nice second half and ten more races in Brands Hatch, Misano, Nürburg, Spielberg and Hockenheim. At least the team around Hans-Jürgen Abt co-founded the new DTM in 2000 and is the most long-standig and successful Audi team (five times driver- and four times team-champion). After closely missing the DTM champions-title in 2016 and 2017, the extremely experienced and ambitious Allgäuers lined up in a new and stronger way for 2018.
Matthias Ekström left the team after 17 years. The Swede, who matured from a young talent to a worldwide-known superstar, now focuses on his rallycross-world-championship-team EKS supported by Audi. In return for his faith and the many wins, “Eki” was allowed to go with in a third Abt Audi outside formal competition during the DTM opening race in Hockenheim. Ektström’s role as the team leader was taken by Nico Müller. The Swiss has been a DTM-pilot for Audi since 2014 and joined ABT in 2016. His best seasonal success was the third position in Budapest. The second Audi RS 5 DTM by ABT is driven by Robin Frijns. The Dutchman is a DTM newcomer and recommended himself at the GT-program of Audi Sport. His biggest highlight so far was the fifth place in the race at Zandvoort.
Additionally there are some newcomers in the ABT team that surrounds sports director Thomas Biermaier: Felix Fechner and Michael Petit are two racing engineers who joined the team 2018. The first one joined ABT from the Audi DTM-team and the other one used to be the ABT data engineer of the Ekström-car. Fechner now is in charge of the Audi RS5 DTM driven by Nico Müller and Petit is capable for Robin Frijns’ car. Florian Modlinger has become the leader of the ABT technical team at the beginning of the running season. He’s a real technical genius: in 2017 he lead Audi to the triple title as the technical director. ABT’s future DTM goals include new victories and becoming the best out of the three Audi teams until the end of the season.