Photo: R-Motorsport

Aston Martin demands further internationalisation to commit to the DTM

The internationalisation of the DTM, with the series reaching a true global scope in the midterm, will be key for Aston Martin’s and R-Motorsport’s continuity, both the manufacturer’s CEO Andy Palmer and team principal Florian Kamelger told TouringCarTimes at the season opener at Hockenheim last weekend.

“It wouldn’t make sense to just come in for a season as that would cause stress in the long term vision of things,” Kamelger told TouringCarTimes. “We go for a couple of years, which makes sense. It’s not too long because DTM’s outlook has to be proven, Class One has to be proven, the internationalisation in the sense of getting together with Japanese Super GT has to be proven, so a couple of years.”

“I think it depends on the success of the series and an improvement of the metrics in Germany,” Palmer added to TouringCarTimes. “But Florian is correct, the early discussions I had with him were also around Japanese series. Japan is the second biggest luxury market in the world, so it’s important.

“There is a longer plan which includes a harmonisation of the standards, which we have been hearing about for a long time from the other side with Nismo (where Palmer worked for 13 years before joining Aston Martin in 2014), which is moving in the right direction and that would provoke us to, maybe, commit for a longer time.”

Audi Motorsport boss Dieter Gass thinks that Aston Martin’s stance is justified and very similar to the situation he himself is facing at Ingolstadt.

“I don’t think there are many manufacturers in a lot of championships that commit for a lot longer than that,” he said. “It’s common that you review your activity regularly, and it’s a similar situation for us as well, I don’t have a 10-year commitment for the DTM.”

“ITR’s and R-Motorsport’s goals are totally aligned in this regard,” DTM umbrella organisation ITR boss Gerhard Berger told TouringCarTimes. “We have made it clear that we want to push the internationalisation of the DTM, not only because R-Motorsport/Aston Martin wants it but because we simply believe it’s the right thing to do, also for other manufacturers. We have said for years that further internationalisation is the way forward for the DTM.”

Another sticking point for R-Motorsport is the DTM brand, which Kamelger understands should change as the championship acquires a true international and global dimension.

“We always said, and that was part of the negotiations with Gerhard also, that the name DTM is a good brand but, on the other hand, it is quite, quite German,” added the R-Motorsport team principal.

“Bringing Aston Martin into the game, it’s important to also internationalise the name. Through the Class One regulations, Germany, Super GT, DTM are all closer together and that needs to be more aligned in the name as well.

“We already communicated during last year’s season finale that we’re thinking about a new name,” Berger added. “This process is still ongoing and the manufacturers are, of course, also involved.

“But it’s too early to say more about it. One thing is clear, though: ‘DTM’ is a very strong and well established brand and it would be reckless to change the name of the series just for the sake of changing it. We’re being extremely diligent and careful here as we are very well aware of the rich heritage the name ‘DTM’ is carrying.”

The development of Class 1 is key for Aston Martin’s ambition of having a stake in new markets, and R-Motorsport believes the progress of the concept is very important to guarantee their commitment to the DTM.

“The other thing we asked Berger is to push Class One into a direction in which it’s not going to be another seven years,” said Kamelger. “As we know, it started in 2012, but I’m very happy that Gerhard and Bandoh San could announce the two joint events, it’s a very brave start into such a venture and I’m looking forward to that.”

BMW Motorsport director Jens Marquardt also hopes that now that the Class 1 ball is rolling it will gain momentum.

“It wasn’t BMW or Audi who held the development for seven years so, in that respect, I have to say that we would have introduced the two-litre four-cylinder engine four years ago, the second time two years ago,” Marquardt told TouringCarTimes. “That it took seven years was based on someone else’s decisions.”

“I think most vehicle manufacturers would say the same. As I said before, when I was with Nissan in Japan I was always trying to ensure that, one way or another, the Super GT regulations would align with DTM and maybe even the Aussie V8s,” added Palmer specifying other markets of interest for Aston Martin. “If we do that, manufacturers will invest so I think it’s in the best interests of the sport to achieve the harmonisation of the regulations.

“My immediate request, of course, is that we go and race in Japan so, with the harmonisation of the regulations, you are already racing in the market number two and number three of the luxury markets in the world, so that’s huge, and that’s part of that long term vision for us.”

Berger also thinks that the expansion of the Class 1 concept doesn’t have to be limited to just Europe and Asia. Asked if he envisages the series reaching North America and Australia, the ITR boss said: “Why not? We believe that with our technical regulations we have created a great basis. Class 1 is an excellent framework that provides us with many options, also in terms of further internationalisation.”

Marquardt also thinks that the rule harmonisation will speed up now that Aston Martin is on board.

“We are in DTM since always equal to other manufacturers and it makes sense,” he said. “With Aston Martin Motorsport in place now I hope we are all moving in a quicker path with these common developments. I’m absolutely happy if Mr. Kamelger follows the paths we are discussing with regards to next evaluations in a way that we can move faster.”

The season finale at Hockenheim from the 4th to the 6th of October will hold the first joint event between the DTM and the Super GT, with three Japanese cars joining the grid as wild card entries. The Super GT’s season finale at Fuji on the 23rd and 24th of November will count with 12 DTM cars and as many from the Japanese side, becoming the first properly competitive event between the two series.