Rast: “When you accelerate it makes you smile”
The DTM turbo era has begun. At Estoril, BMW and Audi completed the first three days of testing with their new DTM vehicles. The new technical regulations that also will come into force in the Japanese SUPER-GT Championship, from 2020, represent the beginning of a new DTM era. The V8 engines that were used until now will be replaced by newly designed 2-litre 4-cylinder turbo engines that make for a good mix of performance and efficiency. The drivers may rejoice at a power increase of nearly 100bhp as the new engines produce a whopping 600bhp. What also results in increased top speed. At the end of Estoril’s long home straight, the new DTM cars were accelerated to more than 290kph.
One of the five DTM drivers who were involved in the three days of testing in Portugal was René Rast. The German who won the 2017 DTM title and finished second last year was really taken with the new car, after the racetrack debut of the new DTM-car generation: “For a racing driver, having more power always is great. We always complain when the cars haven’t got enough power. Therefore, the new engine represents a major step forward. And your realise this step when entering the car right away. It makes your face smile as soon as you press the pedal to the metal. That’s really great and at the end of the day it also means more fun for us drivers,” the Audi driver told DTM.com. Serial winner Rast already has got ‘a dose of experience’ with the new engine under his belt. Therefore, the tests didn’t represent virgin soil for the German. “I already race for Mazda with four-cylinder turbo engines in the USA at Daytona, Sebring and Watkins Glen, this year.”
More power also means a bigger load for the rear wheels
Rast who tested throughout the Tuesday and completed more than 100 laps, in the end, already got a clear picture of how he will have to adapt his style of driving to the new circumstances. “Quite obviously, more power also means a bigger load for the rear wheels. While accelerating, the car tends to slide more on the rear axle. Therefore, it’s more difficult to make optimum use of the power and you must be even more careful with the throttle. You mustn’t be too aggressive and have to opt for another line into some of the corners. Nonetheless, the car handles similar to its predecessor.”
Rast can imagine that the gaps in the races will be bigger and the racing slightly less close than in the recent past. But he expects thrilling and enthralling races, nevertheless. “With more power and less driving aids, the risk of making mistakes will be bigger. Taking the cars to the very limit will be less easy. I think that this also will result in bigger gaps in the qualifying sessions. And I hope that you will see a lot of overtaking manoeuvres in the races.” Rast also can put the fans minds at ease when it comes to the sound of the new cars. “It goes without saying that the sound of the new cars is different – but they still sound great. The sound of the Audi and the BMW differs. And the new cars also are more than loud enough.
Rast’s fellow Audi drivers also are thrilled by the new turbos. “The new DTM car has terrific muscle and momentum,” enthused Nico Müller who on Monday took the wheel on the first of the three test days. “The turbo engine has awesome thrust. We’re going to see speeds never witnessed in DTM before. The power boost is really noticeable. This is going to make even greater demands on us drivers. The car also looks really fast when you stand trackside. The sound is fascinating too. I definitely wouldn’t want to swap the turbo for the old V8 aspirated engine again.” Having covered the first testing kilometres with the new Audi RS 5 DTM, DTM Champion Mike Rockenfeller took a similar point of view: “I love the turbo engine and am convinced that the fans will love it, too. The sound is great and the car substantially faster. We all can look forward to the next season.”
The front of the cars looks even more aggressive
The aero package also is completely new: rear wing, underbody, front and rear diffusers were newly defined by the 2019 regulations. At the same time, the engineers adapted the front of the car to the more compact turbo engine and its cooling requirements. The clearly changed airflow in the area of the car’s front makes it look even more aggressive than its successful predecessor.
Meanwhile, the testing work for BMW was executed by the former champions Bruno Spengler and Marco Wittmann. “The initial test days with the new BMW M4 DTM with a turbo engine were so much fun,” said Spengler. “It is also very interesting for us as drivers to be involved in the development of a new DTM racing car. I have been driving DTM cars with V8 engines for 14 years, and this was the first time that I’ve been on the racetrack with a four-cylinder turbo engine. This is totally new to me and is so much fun. The car feels great and I am looking forward to the next tests,” said Canadian Spengler.
Wittmann: Cars are faster, the sound is great
The car feels really cool when you’re driving it and it is so much fun,” confirmed Wittmann. “You really can feel the performance and the torque of the new engine and the modified aerodynamics means that the car behaves differently. I’m overwhelmingly positive after the initial test and I think that the fans really have something to look forward to. From the outside you can clearly tell that the cars are much faster than last year. This will definitely make for more of a spectacle. And I can reassure the fans: the sound remains as great as ever. Personally, I prefer it to the previous engines. It sounds a little different, but it is neither muted nor bad. I like it and I think that the fans will do so, too.”