The future of the German touring car series DTM (Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters) is in doubt following Audi’s announcement Monday that it will exit the series at the end of the 2020 season.
The automaker cited the challenges of the ongoing Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic and a commitment to Formula E as the reasons for leaving DTM, which has operated in its current format since 2000.
Over its decades of participation, Audi has racked up 23 championship titles, including eleven driver titles and 114 victories. But its decision to quit will leave BMW as the sole manufacturer in the series. Mercedes-Benz and Aston Martin also competed in DTM but quit after 2018 and 2019, respectively.
“Audi has shaped the DTM and the DTM has shaped Audi,” said Markus Duesmann, CEO of Audi. “With this energy, we’re going to drive our transformation into a provider of sporty, sustainable electric mobility forward.”
The news comes after Audi’s parent Volkswagen announced in 2019 that the future of its motorsport operations would be entirely focused on electric performance.
DTM organizer ITR isn’t sitting on its hands. The organizer has made attempts to merge rules with popular Japanese touring car series Super GT. It’s also hinted at a possible future for DTM where teams would compete using electric race cars packing as much as 1,000 horsepower.
“My commitment remains to the year ahead, and to ensuring we provide our hundreds of thousands of fans with a thrilling and competitive season,” said Gerhard Berger, chairman of ITR. “But, as soon as possible, I also want to create planning security for our participating teams, sponsors and everybody whose job depends on the DTM.”
DTM’s current season is on hold due to the coronavirus. Organizers are hopeful of hosting the first race in mid-July.