It seems like just a few months ago we were watching the wholesale collapse of DTM when Audi announced it would be leaving the series, just a year after Merceded pulled out, and a half-assed Aston Martin effort collapsed. the decades old German touring car series has evolved over the years into a formula that costs tens of millions of dollars to run with the cars left little more than formula racers with carbon bodies. Some recent revelations by the series indicate that it’s headed for a turnaround, which is great!
From 2021 the series will run a new GT Pro specification set of rules. It’s basically a more aggressive GT3 class, which bumps the cars horsepower numbers up to about 600 from their standard 550. The new DTM GT Pro also removes typical driver aids found in standard GT3, like ABS and traction control. As before, DTM will award success ballast to drivers who make the podium to help keep the championship competitive. Also as before, the double header race weekend will involve a pair of 55 minute races.
Okay, all of that sounds decent enough, a stop-gap to keep the legendary series from dying a miserable and lonely death. DTM is better than GT3, though. This was once a revolutionary series pitting homologation specials against each other in lurid and occasionally bloody battles. What’s new? What’s the future? How will this series revive itself to its once and future glory?
Electric is the only answer, obviously. DTM Electric.
“Together with Schaeffler, our first strategic partner with which we will be cooperating, we want to lead the DTM platform into a successful future,” said DTM boss Gerhard Berger. “It is our aim not only to showcase the latest technology in DTM Electric, but also to bring central innovations to the race track that allow for spectacular racing. Thus, we also want to convince the classic motorsport fans about future technologies and fascinate them with attractive racing.”
“We are looking forward to this partnership,” said Matthias Zink, Schaeffler board member Automotive Technologies. “Our innovative e-drivetrain systems have been contributing to victories in Formula E since 2014 already and are also being used in production cars in the meantime. The partnership with the DTM and the fully-electric series for the future are proof that Schaeffler is helping shape e-mobility as a reliable technology partner.”
The age of the Class One car is dead, long live the E-car. Developed in conjunction with Schaeffler, the future of DTM features 1000 electric horsepower, sedan-looking bodies developed by Moodley and Ideenion, high voltage hot-swappable battery arrays, and allegedly will feature hands-off robot pit stops. I’m not so sure about that last one, but everything else sounds rad as heck.
And this isn’t just some rendering that the series put together to get people like me excited about empty promises. A 1000 horsepower all-electric test bed vehicle has already been out logging laps in the hands of Formula E driver (but not virtual Formula E driver) Daniel Abt, former DTM champs Hans-Joachim Stuck, and Timo Scheider, as well as Schaeffler’s Sophia Floersch.
I don’t know if it is the same prototype as the Audi RS3 LMS TCR race car converted to run on a quartet of Formula E motors, but I would not be surprised if it were.
The plan for these races is to run short 30 minute sprints as a support series for the GT3-based DTM proper as soon as 2023 with proper full cars built up for testing and demonstrations as soon as next year. Obviously there is still work to be done, but if the series can get enough battery in these things, and allow hot swapping, to get to 55 minute races, it can then potentially take over as the new future of DTM. GT3 doesn’t seem long-term tenable to me, and manufacturers want green options for their racing.
I’m in, this looks super cool. How about you?