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13 September 2011

Audi's A5 DTM is ready to wrestle

Words by Christopher Kho | Photos courtesy of Audi AG
Two months after the first design sketches were revealed, Audi's 2012 DTM contender is finally ready to step into the limelight at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show. The new Audi A5 DTM will be the first ever two-door coupe from the four rings brand to enter into international touring car series. And when it hits the track next year, it should be fit to slug it out with the best from BMW and Mercedes-Benz. 
Conforming to new Technical Regulations, the A5 DTM shares as much as 50 components with other cars on the grid to reduce costs by 40 percent. Its front and rear subframes are now identical throughout all DTM manufacturers, but underneath the composite body sits a freshly-designed hybrid carbon fiber monocoque and steel cage chassis to improve safety. Adding to that are more stringent material and production specifications for suspension components, which greatly limits the suspension's design options.
Creativity in aerodynamics has been restricted as well. The A4 DTM's complex rear fins are banned, forcing Audi's engineers to settle with some rather dull-looking rear fenders. This, however, serves a greater purpose as it not only creates a stronger visual resemblance to its road-going version, but also makes it more resilient to body contact which DTM is very well known for. On the plus side, a hunky LMP-inspired rear wing is employed to improve aerodynamic efficiency.
Audi's latest DTM contender surely looks menacing with its coupe profile. Its low-slung body, wide wheel arches, and hexagonal signature Audi grill shows that it's ready to win the title back for Audi. The A5 DTM will still be powered by the 460 horsepower V8 used in this year's machine. The newly developed paddle-shift six-speed transmission, on the other hand, is now pneumatically operated and will allow the gearbox to last up to 24,000 kilometers before a rebuild or replacement. 
The 2012 rules have certainly confined the diversity of DTM race cars that will line up on the grid. But cheaper development costs and closer wheel-to-wheel racing brought about cars running on similar platforms should attract more teams, and hopefully, lure in more manufacturers. We're hoping that this change will attract Alfa Romeo and Opel back into the series and relive the glory days of DTM in the 80's and 90's.