Jens Marquardt: “Audi withdrawal has tarnished the DTM”

BMW Group motorsport director Jens Marquardt has admitted that Audi’s decision to quit the DTM at the of the 2020 season has “tarnished the coming months and years” amidst question marks over the long-term future of the series.

Audi’s decision to walk away from the DTM to focus on Formula E came after the R-Motorsport Aston Martin programme was canned after a single season, with BMW set to become the sole manufacturer remaining in the series.

The delayed 2020 campaign is set to begin at Spa in August after authorities in the city of Nüremberg said a planned season opener at the Norisring couldn’t take place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which brought a halt to sporting action around the world.

However, whilst hopeful that the series will be able to race as planned, Marquardt admitted to having mixed feelings about 2020 because of the announcement from Audi back in April.

“To be perfectly honest – I have mixed feelings,” he said. “The coronavirus pandemic obviously overshadows everything. However, when I look at it from a sporting perspective, we are more determined than ever to prove that our package is capable of more than we managed to show in the second half of last season.

“We have worked hard to make this possible during the long period of preparation. However, with all the anticipation ahead of the coming season, I will openly admit that the announcements by our competitors that they will be withdrawing from the series have tarnished the coming months and years.

“We had two focusses: on the one hand, to offer fans great racing again in 2020 – on the screen, at least – and to achieve the prerequisites for this to happen. On the other hand, to prepare the DTM for the future and to work together to put the finishing touches to the 2022 hybridisation and electrification in 2025. This second focus is now obviously no more.”

Quizzed as to what Audi’s decision to leave the DTM would mean for BMW, Marquardt admitted it was important to sit down with series organisers ITR to discuss what happens next.

“All our works motorsport commitments have exactly the same DNA as the DTM, namely competition between manufacturers at the highest level,” he said. “That is what the DTM as a series, and the underlying Class 1 regulations, are designed for. The withdrawal of Audi contradicts that. That much is clear.

“It is not up to BMW alone to make a decision. Now it is important to work together within the ITR committees to clarify and illustrate the effects of the Audi withdrawal. Once that has been achieved, we will see what it means for the DTM, the underlying Class 1 regulations, and the future.”