The Audi RS4 is a pretty badass car any way you look at it, but put it next to the A4 DTM and it looks remarkably pedestrian. With torquey turbodiesel versions of the R8 supercar, TT range and Q7 sport-ute all making their debuts at the 2008 Geneva Motor Show, Ingolstadt chose the most extreme racing version of its A4 to highlight at its press conference.
Unveiled by Dr. Martin Mühlmeier, Head of Audi Sport Technology; Audi Motorsport chief Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich; and reigning champion driver Mattias Ekström; the "project R14" A4 DTM represents over a year of development. The racing formula governing the DTM German touring car championship precludes Audi from showcasing any of its trademark technologies – like FSI direct-injection, TDI diesels or quattro all-wheel-drive – but that didn't stop Audi's racing engineers from working their magic, focusing on the car's aerodynamics. That much became immediately evident as soon as the veil was lifted off the new racer, decked out in more wings and fins than the San Diego Zoo and Sea World combined. See for yourselves in our high-res gallery, and read more in the press release after the jump.
Related Gallery2008 Audi A4 DTM
Audi A4 DTM Unveiled in Geneva
To make a championship winning car even better – the Audi Sport engineers and technicians faced this delicate task when the job of developing the DTM race version of the new Audi A4 arose. From the visual aspect they certainly succeeded: The new A4 DTM, which was publicly unveiled for the first time at the Motor Show in Geneva, spontaneously appears even more dynamic than the successful predecessor model with which Mattias Ekström won the DTM title last year.
The fourth-generation Audi A4 DTM, which bears the project name "R14" internally at Audi Sport, is also futuristic from the technical aspect. With the help of state-of-the-art CFD calculations (Computational Fluid Dynamics) particular attention was paid to the air flow running around and through the car. "In doing so we completed what we had already started last year with the R13," explains Head of Audi Motorsport Dr Wolfgang Ullrich. "We are convinced that we have achieved the most logical optimisation of the aerodynamics allowed within the framework of the regulations."
During the twelve month development period, which started in March 2007, a predominantly new DTM car differing in many details to its predecessor was created in Ingolstadt and Neckarsulm. "Ground breaking technical innovations on a par with quattro, FSI or TDI are not possible owing to the restrictive nature of the regulations," says Dr Martin Mühlmeier, Head of Audi Sport Technology. "In the DTM it's more a question of the logical interpretation and implementation of the technology allowed."
In the process it was possible to reduce the car's centre of gravity height and to further reduce the dry weight, which in turn gives the race engineers more flexibility to set the car up to suit specific race tracks and the weight distribution.
The technicians even found development potential in the four-litre near 460 hp V8 engine used in the Audi A4 DTM. The internal friction was further reduced which in turn benefited the power produced and torque curve.
The basic principle of the vehicle, which is stipulated by the regulations, remains the same: The A4 DTM is a thoroughbred race car with the silhouette of the new Audi A4. The chassis has a hybrid concept. It consists of almost 31 metres of steel tube of the type also used in the aerospace industry. The driver sits in a carbon fibre safety cell that actually resembles a Formula 1 monocoque. This combination guarantees the highest torsional stiffness and safety.
The bodywork is made from carbon-fibre composite and is – in spite of all the aerodynamic gadgets – immediately identifiable at first glance as an Audi A4. The distinctive brand styling-elements like the Single Frame grille and the white LED daytime low-beam lights ensure that the face of the A4 DTM has the same unique look like the road going model.
The most important components of the new DTM were tested immediately after the end of the 2007 DTM season. The first R14 prototype completed its roll-out shortly before Christmas at Le Castellet (France). Before its race debut on 13 April at the Hockenheimring, the new Audi A4 DTM will have spooled off several thousand test kilometres – including endurance tests.
"The new road going A4 has already won many international awards in a very short period of time," says Dr Wolfgang Ullrich. "We aim to do these awards justice with the new DTM. We are convinced that the new Audi A4 is an excellent base for a successful DTM car."
Defending champion Mattias Ekström, who unveiled his new company car in Geneva together with his boss, prefers not to make any predictions at the moment: "If the new A4 DTM is as quick as it looks then I'll be satisfied," says the Swede diplomatically.
The new Audi A4 DTM meets its future opponents for the first time at the official DTM test between 10 and 12 March in Mugello (Italy).