Mercedes-AMG has ruled out upgrading its current GT3 car for the DTM but the brand’s head of customer racing says it is registering interest from GT3 teams about the global formula’s potential usage in the German national series.
Stefan Wendl explained that AMG has received inquiries from some of its top GT3 customers about using the Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo in the DTM, and that the manufacturer would consider these opinions if it can use the standard car.
However, he said there was no plan to modify the Evo for a new set of regulations.
Mercedes was a manufacturer in the DTM from the start of the championship’s new era in 2000 until the end of 2018 when it pulled out to focus on its Formula E program.
This left Audi, BMW and – for the 2019 season – R-Motorsport Aston Martin as the only participating brands, while the loss of Audi at the end of the current season has forced the series to scramble for options to ensure its survival and long-term future.
Upgraded GT3 cars have become the most likely replacement for Class One but questions remain over which manufacturers want to get involved, and how they would do so.
“I can state so far that for sure we will not upgrade our car in any further developing direction, to make a special GT3,” Wendl told Sportscar365.
“This will not happen with AMG. In case there are some new race series available, then we will discuss it with our customers [to see if they are] interested or not.
“And also, hopefully, then if ITR contact us, then we can discuss what is necessary and if our car can compete.
“If this is possible then we can service the cars with our spare parts truck and support engineers in place to give the best possible support to our customers who are interested to drive there.
“This is everything which I can state, but at the end there is nothing known. Everybody is discussing it in the press, but nobody gets any information about anything: the sporting regulations, the race format, how the car should look like or what is the goal for anything.
“That’s why I cannot say anything, but we will not change the cars.”
Wendl suggested that it would not be worth AMG launching a new test program to develop modifications for its GT3 Evo, which was only introduced globally this year.
He said that adaptations to the clutch for the DTM’s standing starts and adjustments in other areas would ramp-up costs.
“We would probably need a carbon clutch which is four or five times more expensive, and you would need to service this after each start, or at least after each weekend to shim it, so you don’t burn it down,” explained Wendl.
“All these things need to be tested and developed and this is only one part. We are not willing to spend these efforts for a single race series.”
Wendl added that he’s unsure of how a GT3-based DTM would fit into Mercedes-AMG’s current customer racing framework, in terms of how much factory support it would give.
“I don’t know where it should come from,” he said.
“We do customer racing and we have our concept of what kind of events we like to support. The IGTC, the Nürburgring 24 and Macau [FIA GT World Cup] are our head races.
“Depending on how the calendar looks next year we might have to adapt and change it, but this is our plan to continue.
“We want to have competition between our customers in national race series, leading to maybe a ‘Performance’ car effort in one of the available highlight races.”
Audi’s Reinke: “We have to Find Differentiation”
Audi Sport’s head of customer racing, Chris Reinke, said that while the manufacturer has “a strong GT3 car available” for DTM, this option can’t overlap with other GT3 series.
Reinke stressed that Audi “wouldn’t want to harm a good business just for a different one” if it jumped into a GT3-based DTM alongside the popular ADAC GT Masters series, where the Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo is the most common car on the grid.
Despite its confirmed withdrawal from the DTM at the end of the current season, Audi currently remains invested in the championship as a part-owner of ITR.
“We have given the commitment to ITR that we would try to find a formula the series can run on,” Reinke told Sportscar365.
“DTM is a label in central Europe and Germany of high value so we’re trying to keep that flag flying.
“At the same time, we have a very strong championship with ADAC GT Masters. We have to find differentiation to allow them to run in parallel.
“I think it’s early to have a topic about that. I think priority has, from a customer racing point of view, [to be] to support our partner ADAC and the GT Masters.
“If we find a smart way to continue with ITR on the DTM platform with GT3 cars, we are ready to add that as a strategic addition to our portfolio at Audi Sport customer racing.”
While the focus lies on the major German manufacturers, Audi’s fellow Volkswagen group brand Lamborghini has also responded to recent developments with its head of motorsport Giorgio Sanna saying it will keep a close eye on what’s going on in DTM.
The introduction of GT3-based cars in DTM could pave the way for a greater breadth of participants, considering the GT3 formula’s varied list of carmakers.
“Germany is a very important market for us,” Sanna told Sportscar365.
“We are absolutely happy about ADAC GT Masters, which has a very high level of drivers and teams. And clearly the ITR is a very strong and professional model.
“They have this idea, but we will for sure evaluate the possible technical regulations.
“At the moment I see it very difficult to put in place any kind of factory program, but never say never. Maybe some of our customer teams could be interested in participating and investing money for business reasons.”
John Dagys contributed to this report