In the hunt for a repeat performance

Any fan of touring car racing has undoubtedly heard of the DTM series, but for those of you out there still drawing a blank, I’ll start things off with a little background info. The Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters, or DTM for short, is Germany’s premier touring car race series, often pitting the big three German makes of Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz against one another on circuits around Europe. Audi Sport had a very impressive performance during the 2017 season, snagging a slew of titles and achieving its “most successful results of all time,” according to the team. However, the 2018 season is now upon us, and with it, a variety of regulation changes shake up the competitive landscape. So, how did Audi adapt to the revisions compared to Merc and BMW? Read on to find out.

Continue reading to learn more about the Audi RS 5 DTM.

2018 Audi RS 5 DTM Exterior Styling

  • Looks like a proper Audi
  • Advanced aero package
  • Less downforce for 2018
  • ATS wheels
2018 Audi RS 5 DTM
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To this recognizable Audi aesthetic, the RS 5 DTM adds a host of go-faster body pieces, including ultra-wide fenders, extended side skirts, tons of vents, and a mammoth rear wing.

The Audi 5 Series DTM that we know today has been around since 2012, originally brought in as a replacement for the Audi A4 DTM after the 2011 DTM season.

Since then, the car has evolved, both in terms of technical specification and exterior appearance. As always, the modern car offers a good deal of visual cues to the production vehicle, including the familiar front end and three-box silhouette. However, to this recognizable aesthetic, the RS 5 DTM adds a host of go-faster body pieces, including ultra-wide fenders, extended side skirts, tons of vents, and a mammoth rear wing.

Previously, Audi had developed its own aero package for competition, but heading into the 2018 season, DTM regulations now stipulate that aero components must be kept within certain predetermined limits as far as size and shape are concerned. As such, each car competing in DTM this year has basically the same aero package, with significantly lower levels of downforce achieved overall.

“Intensive aerodynamics development as in the past no longer exists,” says Audi Sport in a press release. “The reduction of downforce has a major effect on the suspension setup and handling of the tires.”

Final touches include ultra-wide wheels from ATS, which provides the wheels for each of the entries in the series.

2018 Audi RS 5 DTM
Length 197 inches
Width 77 inches
Height 45 inches
Track 77 inches
Wheelbase 108 inches

2018 Audi RS 5 DTM Interior Design

  • Carbon fiber everything
  • Multi-point racing harness
  • Removable steering wheel
  • All-digital instrumentation
  • Highly experience driver roster
2018 Audi RS 5 DTM
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The steering wheel is a removable oblong composite plank, which comes studded with a variety of buttons to control various vehicle functions.

Per usual, the cabin of the Audi RS 5 DTM consists of a carbon fiber tub, where drivers are secured in place on the lefthand side with highly bolstered racing buckets and a multi-point racing harnesse. The steering wheel is a removable oblong composite plank, which comes studded with a variety of buttons to control various vehicle functions. Behind the carbon wheel, the instrumentation is all-digital, and includes a horizontal set of shift lights.

Taking the helm for testing were drivers Jamie Green and René Rast, both of whom bring experience and winning results to the driving roster.

“We felt the reduced downforce even during the first virtual tests in the simulator,” Rast explains. “The cars are now even more challenging to drive than before.”

Other drivers enlisted into Audi Sport service include Robin Frijns, Loïc Duval, Nico Müller, and Mike Rockenfeller.

2018 Audi RS 5 DTM Drivetrain And Performance

  • Spec N/A 4.0-liter V-8
  • DTM-spec racing fuel
  • More than 500 horsepower produced
  • Last iteration of the V-8
  • Six-speed sequential gearbox
2018 Audi RS 5 DTM
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This lump was developed in-house by Audi, and gets custom-built components and tuning to help it stand out from the other 4.0-liter V-8’s in play in the series.

To make all the good noises, the RS 5 DTM comes equipped with a naturally aspirated 4.0-liter V-8, which is mounted longitudinally in the nose and sends power exclusively to the rear wheels.

This lump was developed in-house by Audi, and gets custom-built components and tuning to help it stand out from the other 4.0-liter V-8’s in play in the series. Standout features include a 90-degree V-angle for the cylinder banks, four valves per cylinder, and indirect fuel injection.

A Bosch Motronic engine management system keeps it running right, while CDI ignition system, also from Bosch, makes it spark. The fuel used is DTM-spec race juice, otherwise known as Aral Ultimate unleaded with a 102 RON rating. Castrol provides the lubricants.

All said and done; the ‘eight churns out more than 500 ponies at 7,500 rpm.

2018 Audi RS 5 DTM
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Unfortunately, 2018 is the last season the 4.0-liter V-8 will see race duty.

Impressive stuff, but unfortunately, 2018 is the last season the 4.0-liter V-8 will see race duty. This will the 18th year DTM has used the configuration, first introducing it in the inaugural reborn season back in 2000, and next year, the series will turn over a new leaf with a fresh powerplant package - a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder.

However, for now, the all-atmosphere ‘eight is in full effect. Routing all that muscle to the rearmost axle is a six-speed sequential semi-automatic paddle shifter from Hewland.

2018 Audi RS 5 DTM Chassis And Handling

Carbon monocoque chassis
Simplified suspension for 2018
Pushrod actuation
Less than 2,500 pounds total
Six-pot racing brakes
Hankook racing slicks

2018 Audi RS 5 DTM
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This year, all DTM cars must use a single spring and damper unit per wheel, with regulations banning last year’s “third element.”

Like the previous RS 5 DTM, the 2018 season car is built on an ultra-light carbon fiber-reinforced plastic monocoque chassis. Keeping it in the corners is a set of double wishbone suspension front and back, both of which come with DSSV dampers and Eibach springs, plus pushrod actuation.

This year, all DTM cars must use a single spring and damper unit per wheel, with regulations banning last year’s “third element” which connected the two wheels on each axle. That means the car will be more lively and difficult to control, which, as a result, should bring about more entertainment for spectators.

Further changes includes no more “performance weights,” which were essentially performance handicaps that didn’t sit well with fans. Audi agrees with the move, saying it should help to put more emphasis on driver skill overall.

2018 Audi RS 5 DTM
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Chalk up the Lowe weight to the copious amounts of carbon and materials tech in play.

Speaking of weight, the Audi RS 5 DTM tips the scales at a little under 2,500 pounds (2,458 to be exact). That includes the weight of the driver. Chalk it up to the copious amounts of carbon and materials tech in play.

To help haul it down, the RS 5 DTM employs brakes from AP Racing. Each corner comes with some serious hardware, which includes six-pot calipers clamping down on large carbon discs.

Finally, the tires come from Hankook, which provides rubber from its Ventus series of racing slicks.

“Previously, in 2017, more powerful engines and softer tires made for more thrilling races,” Audi Sport explains. “Now aerodynamic downforce of the DTM race cars with more than 500 horsepower has been reduced by about 25 percent compared to last year and the suspensions have been simplified.”

Put it all together, and the result is fiercer competition between the various makes. And speaking of which…

2018 Audi RS 5 DTM Competition

BMW M4 DTM

2014 BMW M4 DTM High Resolution Exterior
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The Bavarians pride themselves on the fact they offer high-end elegance mated with face-ripping performance, but to back the latter of those two characteristics, BMW has to bring the heat on the track. As such, the German automaker offers this - the M4 DTM, which arrives in the 2018 season with a variety of upgrades. Like the rest of the competitors, the Bimmer gets the same reduced downforce package, as well as a naturally aspirated 4.0-liter V-8 making more than 500 horsepower. Carbon racing discs help it stop, while the sticky Hankook racing slicks help send it to 62 mph in just 2.6 seconds. The rear wing also comes with a Drag Reduction System to help the car achieve a higher top speed. So far, BMW is second in the standings for the Manufacturers’ and Teams’ rankings.

Read our full review on the BMW M4 DTM.

Mercedes-AMG C 63 DTM

2016 Mercedes-AMG C63 DTM High Resolution Exterior
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While it ain’t over ‘till it’s over, Mercedes-Benz has been on a tear lately, leading in points for the Drivers’ championship, Teams’ Championship, and Manufacturers’ Championship. Responsible for those impressive results is the Mercedes-AMG C 63 DTM, which seems to be adapting well to the new rule changes for 2018. Although there’s less wing, the tires are also softer, which makes for more mechanical grip overall, and Mercedes’ drivers are taking advantage, scoring the top two spots in the driver’s championship.

Read our full review on the Mercedes-AMG C 63 DTM.

Final Thoughts

2018 Audi RS 5 DTM
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Audi had its best season ever just last year, but that was then, and this is now, and so far, Audi has struggled in 2018.

Audi’s record in the DTM series is nothing less than impressive. In the 73 races that have taken place since the 2018 season, the Audi RS 5 DTM has managed to secure as many as 32 wins, 26 pole positions, and 42 fastest race laps. What’s more, the Four Ring brand has a variety of championship titles to its name, including three Constructors’ Championship titles (2014, 2016, 2017) and two Drivers’ Championships (2013, 2017).

However, Audi’s best season by far arrived just last year, when it managed to secure the hat trick of a championship title, plus wins in the team and manufacturer’s championship, all with the top four positions going to Audi drivers.

But that was then, and this is now. Audi’s latest RS 5 DTM first appeared in Vallelunga, Italy, for testing, followed by an initial competition appearance at the Hockenheimring this past May.

Initially, Audi Sport agreed with DTM’s top brass that simplified suspension setups and less downforce would provide more entertaining racing. However, Audi is currently struggling against the likes of Mercedes and BMW. With eight rounds of the total 18 now officially the books, Audi’s top driver, Mike Rockenfeller, is in tenth place in the points, while the bottom spots in both the teams’ standings and manufacturer’s standings go to the Four Ring brand.

Hopefully, Audi can make a comeback in the 10 remaining rounds. Audi’s next step is this Friday in the Netherlands, as the DTM circus sets up shop at Circuit Zandvoort.

  • Leave it
    • * Behind in points in each championship fight
    • * New rules change a lot
    • * BMW and Mercedes are no pushovers

Further Reading

Audi Claims The New RS5 Can Do 0 to 60 MPH in Four Seconds, But What Can it Do Under "Ideal Conditions?" Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2019 Audi RS 5 Sportback.

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Read more Audi news.

DTM Champion, winners of the teams’ and manufacturers’ classifications, Audi drivers in the top four spots of the table: In 2017, Audi Sport finished the season with its most successful results of all time. In tests at Vallelunga, Italy, the new Audi RS 5 DTM now made its first public appearance. With the further developed championship-winning car Audi Sport will start the 2018 season and therefore its “title defense” project at the Hockenheimring on May 5 and 6.

This year, following the discontinuation of the unpopular performance weights, the drivers in the DTM will take center stage to an even greater extent than before. Previously, in 2017, more powerful engines and softer tires made for more thrilling races. Now aerodynamic downforce of the DTM race cars with more than 500 horsepower has been reduced by about 25 percent compared to last year and the suspensions have been simplified. Per wheel, the regulations now permit only one spring/damper unit. The so-called “third element,” a connection between the two wheels of an axle, is no longer being used. The objective is to bring the field even closer together than before.

“We are in agreement with DTM CEO Gerhard Berger about the future of the DTM,” says Head of Audi Motorsport Dieter Gass. “We do not want to see a never-ending technological arms race and dominance of a single brand, but thrilling, top-caliber races.” The objective is to make the driver and individual performance of the various teams matter to a greater extent. Gass sees the DTM continuing on the right track in the new season: “The further reduction of downforce and simplified suspension promise an even greater spectacle for the fans.”

Since 2013, at 73 events in the internationally popular touring car series, the Audi RS 5 DTM has clinched 32 victories and 26 pole positions, and posted 42 fastest race laps. In each of the past three years, Audi won the largest number of DTM races with a strong overall package. The scope for development has been reduced in major ways this year as areas of aerodynamics which used to be subject to discretionary design – such as the area around the wheel wells – are now specified for all DTM race cars. “Basically, all cars now have the same aerodynamics package,” says Andreas Roos, the new Project Leader DTM at Audi. “Subject to each manufacturer’s individual design are the transition areas between the aerodynamics components and the bodywork of the respective vehicle.” Intensive aerodynamics development as in the past no longer exists. The reduction of downforce has a major effect on the suspension setup and handling of the tires. Overall, there are fewer setup options for the suspension as well so that Audi had to change its previous philosophy. “The pre-season test at Vallelunga provided us with an initial assessment of where we stand, although the weather conditions on both days were not optimal,” Roos says, summing up the tests.

The first pre-season tests with the latest-generation Audi RS 5 DTM (internal project name: RC7) were performed by Jamie Green (GB) and René Rast (D). Having scored eight victories, Green is the most successful driver of the Audi RS 5 DTM to date while Rast sensationally won the DTM title in his rookie season in 2017. “We felt the reduced downforce even during the first virtual tests in the simulator,” says René Rast. This impression was confirmed on the race track. “The cars are now even more challenging to drive than before. For me, personally, this is great fun and the spectators, too, will enjoy the races that will more than likely be more exciting than ever.”

DTM rookie Robin Frijns (NL) had the opportunity to do some initial laps in the Audi RS 5 DTM at Vallelunga as well. Loïc Duval (F), Nico Müller (CH) and Mike Rockenfeller (D) still have to wait their turn until the official DTM pre-season tests at the Hockenheimring from April 9 to 12. There, a month later, the new DTM season will kick off on May 5 and 6. Tickets sales have begun at www.dtm.com/tickets. In Germany, the new TV partner, SAT.1, will air live coverage of the season opener.

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