“A clear sign for the future”
Every end is a new beginning. During a press conference on Friday at Hockenheim, the venue for this weekend’s grand DTM season finale, Gerhard Berger looked more ahead than back. On the previous day, the participation of British luxury sports car manufacturer Aston Martin into the series from 2019 had been announced. “We have had a great year with entertaining competition. Once again, we have developed the series further and we are expecting a thrilling finale in front of a great crowd. Now, we have filled the gap after Mercedes’ farewell. Now, Aston Martin is a part of our family. I am very happy and proud. This is a clear sign for the future of the DTM,” the chairman of the DTM organisation ITR e.V. said.
The company AF Racing AG will be running the DTM project licensed and supported by Aston Martin and, together with HWA AG, has founded a joint venture based in Germany that will be responsible for development, construction and running of the cars. To Berger’s left in the conference room for the occasion was Dr Florian Kamelger, founder and co-owner of AF Racing AG and team principal of R-Motorsport. “We are also very proud that we are now a member of the DTM family. Mid-term, we are planning four cars,” the Swiss gave a first impression of the future involvement. “Of course, we also want to achieve good results. When we will be racing in 2019 largely depends on the testing possibilities. We also have a few drivers in mind, but we will inform about that at a later stage,” Kamelger says.
It was Red Bull’s head of motorsport in Formula 1, Dr Helmut Marko, who established the initial contact between DTM boss Berger and entrepreneurs Dr Kamelger and D Andreas Baenziger some six months ago. They met for an initial conversation in Graz. “Helmut Marko was a great help in getting the ball rolling,” Kamelger says.
Internationalisation doesn’t depend on the race calendar
Berger emphasised once again that he intends to keep pushing to broaden the international scope of the touring car series. To this end, the new commitment is another milestone. “With Aston Martin, we have the first manufacturer that isn’t from Germany. That is another step into the right direction.”
For Berger, the internationalisation comprises several elements. “One of them is the calendar. We have races in Germany, but also in Italy or Great Britain. However, common regulations are the most important aspect. With our partners in Japan, we have been preparing them for twelve months. That was a tough process. Many negotiations, compromises and discussions were required. The racing culture in Japan is a different one, too. It does make a different whether you have a driver change or refuelling or not. Now, we have found a clear line that we have called ‘CLASS 1’. That is a continuing process and we are on a good way to being able to race the same car on different continents in the future. That is the basis for everything. I reckon that this will be the case in 2020. Currently, we are at 85 percent.” Kamelger agrees: “The internationalisation of the series was one of the most significant points during negotiations with Gerhard Berger and the ITR. For us, Japan is an important market, the fans over there love motorsport.”
Cost reduction was another aspect that Berger emphasised. “The concept of control parts is the basis. Over the years, Audi, BMW and Mercedes-AMG have developed this in a great way. That guarantees thrilling competition, a good show, great racing with small performance gaps. Of course, there has to be a limited window in which manufacturers can use their developments and their knowledge. At this level, you won’t find a more high-profile race series in this budget frame.”