Monday, March 3, 2014

DTM: A look back at the modern Audi factory DTM cars

By Tarek Ramchani

As we are all waiting for the reveal of the 2014 Audi RS 5 DTM at the Geneva Motor Show tomorrow, 4 March, let's have a look back at all of the factory developed DTM race cars since 2004, the year when Audi returned to the premier German Touring Car Masters as a factory team.

2004 Audi A4 DTM (B6) R11

The Audi A4 of the 2004 DTM season was based on the B6 generation of the Audi A4 road car. It was the first factory developed Audi car in the modern DTM, after many years with the ABT-Audi TT-R, a privateer effort from ABT Sportsline. It was called the R11 in house at Audi Sport and was victorious right from the start. Mattias Ekström won the DTM title with his team, ABT Sportsline. In 2005 R11 cars returned, but only with Team Joest, as ABT Sportsline switched to a brand new A4 DTM model. In 2006, two of the R11 cars were used by the customer team, Futurecom TME.

2005 Audi A4 DTM (B7) R12

In 2005 Audi introduced a new Audi A4 DTM race car, the R12. The new car was based on the B7 A4 model and was only given to the ABT Sportsline team. 2005 was a hard year for Audi, with only three race wins, all of them in the hands of Mattias Ekström, who ended second in the drivers' standings. The cars were later given to Phoenix Racing and Team Rosberg, who joined Audi as factory teams in the 2006 DTM season. In 2007 the R12 was fielded by the privateer team, Futurecom TME.

2006 Audi A4 DTM (B7) R12 plus

For the 2006 DTM season Audi updated the 2005 A4 DTM, the car was called the R12 plus, as an evolution of the R12. Four cars were built and given to ABT Sportsline, with four wins in the end. Later the cars were given to Phoenix Racing and Team Rosberg for the 2007 season. Futurecom TME used the R12 plus in the 2008 season.

2007 Audi A4 DTM (B7) R13

In 2007 Audi developed a brand new Audi A4 DTM, a car that was still based on the B7 model. The R13 was a new car compared to the R12 and again only ABT Sportsline took charge of competing with it during its first year. Unlike the R12, the new R13 was an immediate success, with Mattias Ekström taking a second DTM title. Same as with the previous cars, the R13 was later given to teams Phoenix and Rosberg for 2008, as Audi was about to launch a brand new weapon. The R13 was used by the privateer Kolles Futurecom-TME and Kolles Futurecom-BRT teams in the 2009 season.

2008 Audi A4 DTM (B8) R14

Audi introduced a new Audi A4 DTM in 2008. The R14 was based on the new B8 model. The car was amazingly fast and gave the Four Rings six race wins that year. All four of the R14 cars were in the hands of ABT Sportsline drivers and it was Timo Scheider who took the drivers' title in the end. From 2009 until the end of 2011 the R14 was used by Phoenix Racing and Team Rosberg. The R14 won the DTM title again with Martin Tomczyk in 2011, driving for Audi Sport Team Phoenix. The R14 collected a total of 9 race wins in four years.

2009 Audi A4 DTM (B8) R14 plus

As was the case with the R12 plus, the R14 plus was again an evolution rather than a complete new car. The 2009 A4 DTM gave Audi a second straight DTM title, again with Timo Scheider. Unlike the past Audi A4 DTMs, the R14 plus stayed at ABT Sporstline until the end of the 2011 season, with a total of 10 race wins. The DTM rules were frozen from 2009 until the end of 2011, during which time the new rules and cars for the future of the DTM were developed.

2012 Audi A5 DTM R17

In 2012 the DTM introduced a new generation of cars. The four-dour sedans were dropped in favour of a two-door coupe formula. Audi entered the A5 DTM and for the first time since 2004 all of the Audi teams started the season with the same car. The new Audi was called the R17 and a total of eight cars entered the 2012 season. The new Audi collected two race wins, but it was not enough to fight with BMW and Mercedes-Benz for the title.

2013 Audi RS 5 DTM R17

For the 2013 DTM season Audi changed the name of the Audi A5 DTM to the Audi RS 5 DTM. The rules were frozen that year and the three brands were not allowed to have radical changes on their cars. The cars were basically the same, with a different name for commercial and marketing reasons, as Audi was competing against M from BMW and AMG from Mercedes-Benz. The RS 5 DTM, despite being the same car as the A5 DTM, still gave Audi great satisfaction. Mike Rockenfeller was crowned as the series champion, driving for Phoenix Racing and the Four Rings took two race wins.

Photo credit: Audi Media