R-Motorsport team principal Dr. Florian Kamelger has revealed that the Swiss team had a provisional engine deal in place with BMW for the 2020 DTM season before it withdrew from the series.
The R-Motorsport squad debuted in the German championship last year with a license to run Aston Martin-badged cars with technical support from HWA.
This brought the number of manufacturers in the series up to three following Mercedes’ exit at the end of 2018, but the R-Motorsport program only lasted one season.
Speaking at the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour, Kamelger told Sportscar365 that an engine agreement had been made with BMW before R-Motorsport pulled out.
This would have been a major step to securing the team’s place on the grid for another year because HWA had withdrawn its engine supply after a single term, leaving only Audi and BMW as options.
However, it’s understood that R-Motorsport independently left the championship after this deal had been reached.
“BMW would have supplied us with an engine if we would have set an entry,” said Kamelger.
“I didn’t make a secret out of the fact that DTM is difficult. We had discussions in the second half of the year with the respective people and the decision was not an easy one.
“We put much of an effort into searching for the ultimate solution to make it happen. But unfortunately, it didn’t work out.”
Kamelger suggested that the DTM exit will enable R-Motorsport to transfer resources over to its prospective Le Mans Hypercar program with the Aston Martin Valkyrie.
“It obviously does free up some resources,” he said. “The question is, where do you put them? I’ve never made it a secret to be racing as R-Motorsport in WEC and Le Mans.
“We [have been] re-evaluating our motorsport program.
“DTM, for us, turned out not to be a part of this motorsport program because it is quite difficult from an investment place for a small manufacturer like Aston and a small team running the program, which is certainly different to Audi and BMW.
“BMW was a big, big help. Not only with this providing an engine deal which suited for us but also with providing all the possibilities of making it work.
“Unfortunately, we couldn’t make it work, but they put a lot of effort into it.”
Remaining Manufacturers Adjust to News
BMW and Audi have both responded to R-Motorsport’s exit from DTM.
Director of BMW Motorsport Jens Marquardt recently told Sportscar365 that the drop to two manufacturers could be palatable for one season but that such numbers cannot guarantee the series’ long-term health.
“I think at the end of the day it leaves BMW and Audi exactly where we were [before R-Motorsport’s exit] meaning we were preparing for the season to start at the end of April and hopefully put a great field and a great grid of cars in front of the fans together,” he said.
“What we said in the past, to bridge a year with only two is maybe something you can achieve, but the longer-term perspective has to be multiple manufacturers.
“Even last year Gerhard [Berger, DTM boss] made it clear and it’s my opinion as well that three is okay, four and five are much better and that’s what we all need to aim for.”
Marquardt added that BMW is continuing to evaluate the prospect of adding customer teams to its DTM stable with time ticking down until the start of the 2020 season.
Currently, there are 14 cars registered for the full campaign including two Audi customer entries from WRT.
“We’ve worked on that really hard and we’re still working on it,” said Marquardt.
“Hopefully we’ll be able to announce something once we get to that point, but it doesn’t change anything in that respect.”
Audi’s head of motorsport Dieter Gass also commented in the wake of R-Motorsport’s exit and suggested that a three-manufacturer grid could still be achieved in 2020.
“We regret the decision of R-Motorsport and wish the team of Dr. Florian Kamelger all the best for their future projects,” he said.
“The ITR and especially Gerhard Berger are currently in intensive discussions with possible teams and manufacturers.
“We know that it is not an easy task to do this in the remaining three months until the season starts, but we are sure that we can present the DTM fans an attractive starting grid in the 2020 season.”
Slade Perrins and John Dagys contributed to this report.