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After two DTM title wins, the Audi A4 DTM comprising the R14 and R14 plus model generations (2008 and 2009 respectively) remains unbeaten and will line up to compete again in 2010. But this time, it will be without the usual technological advances, as a result of the development freeze imposed on all the DTM manufacturers. The technological development of the vehicles has been all but entirely prohibited since 17 August 2009, with a view to maximising the series’ economic efficiency.
This also applies to the engines, which were sealed for the entire season at the beginning of 2009. One final detail, namely the choice of dampers, was codified on 1 March 2010. Audi has three aerodynamic configurations that were developed prior to the introduction of the development freeze, each of which is used depending on the racetrack in question. As far as chassis kinematics are concerned, only the camber, toe and vehicle height may now be adjusted. The usual computer-generated simulations are therefore now only of limited use and Audi now focuses its testing activities on the optimum use of Dunlop tyres.
In order to ascertain whether the manufacturers are complying with the new regulations, each manufacturer has been required by the German Motorsport Federation (DMSB) to put together a set of reference parts in a discrete sealed container provided by the DMSB, which is then taken to every race. The DMSB has also been furnished with CAD records of the vehicles’ construction.
The stipulated minimum weight of the 2009 vehicles remains unchanged at 1,050 kilograms including the driver, while the regulations prescribe that the 2008 models must each weigh at least 1,025 kilograms. The rule stipulating that the ballast weight is dependent on the vehicle’s previous rankings no longer applies this year.
Together, all of the framework conditions promise to deliver one thing above all, and that is the same level of thrilling sport as ever coupled with substantial budget relief. Because in addition to reducing development costs, there is now no longer any need to create a new generation of vehicles (usually four) every season. Mattias Ekström, Martin Tomczyk, Markus Winkelhock and Alexandre Prémat will all be using the same racing cars as in 2009. Mike Rockenfeller will take to the wheel of Oliver Jarvis’s former car, while Oliver Jarvis inherits Tom Kristensen’s car. DTM newcomer Miguel Molina will drive the A4 used by Katherine Legge from Great Britain last year, as she takes control of the vehicle vacated by Mike Rockenfeller. Defending champion Timo Scheider will drive an A4 DTM with the chassis number R14 plus 606.
Sizeable savings are also being achieved in the field of engine construction, as two vehicles will once again share a maximum of three engines between them for the duration of the season. Audi will tackle the 2010 season with reworked versions of the approximately 340-kilowatt V8 engine, as long as this fits in with the engines’ respective maintenance schedules. Consequently, no entirely new engines are being built this year.
This all ultimately means that the fans will see the same attractive racing cars as last year while the development budget is markedly relieved. Audi is anticipating major savings potential for the 2010 season as a whole, with a reduction of up to 30 per cent in the cost of fielding the nine Audi A4 DTM (not including accident-related repair costs).
The development freeze marks a hiatus in an impressive development process which has seen Audi achieve some major improvements in efficiency between the first generation of the Audi A4 DTM – the R11 in 2004 – and the most recent R14 plus. For example, the basic vehicle weight not including ballast weight has been reduced by more than 20 per cent, while the torsional rigidity has remained unchanged. The vehicle’s centre of gravity has been lowered by more than 10 per cent and the aerodynamic efficiency – the ratio of drag to downforce – has been improved by the developers by more than 20 per cent. The Audi A4 DTM has never been more efficient.