2012 DTM preview at Hockenheim

DTM is one of Germany's best-kept secrets. The series features (ostensibly) production-based touring cars piloted by a mix of up-and-coming talents and retired Formula One drivers around some of Europe's finest racing circuits. But the series won't be a secret for long as a number of developments aim to up its profile.

First of all, with the 2011 season now complete, the German touring car championship is about to switch to a new formula that will see a new generation of racing coupes replace the older sedans. The new crop just made their track debut this weekend at Hockenheim for the DTM season finale, and we've put together a little gallery of high-res images for you to check out.

The 2012 field is also growing thanks to the arrival of BMW, which is joining the series as of next season to take on Audi and Mercedes-Benz, which have been dueling it out mano-a-mano for the past few seasons. Having only shown the new M3 DTM in matte black until now, BMW has finally showcased its new racer in full regalia, packing the marque's signature striped white livery.

BMW is eager to leverage its new DTM program beyond Germany's borders. This year's calendar included races in Austria, Holland, England and Spain, in addition to those within Germany, and has in recent years raced in such locations as Italy, France, Belgium, Portugal, the Czech Republic, Turkey and even China. However, a closing gap in regulations between DTM and Japan's Super GT series could soon see the two competing on common fields.

More intriguing, however, is a development BMW is keen to pursue that would see DTM come to the United States. Touring car racing – as distinct from stock cars – is not very popular in America, and the organizers of the German series have been working at filling that gap by pairing an American version of the series as support races for series like NASCAR, Grand-Am or IndyCar. Sources indicate the move could happen as soon as 2013 – in other words, the racing season after next. Follow the jump for press releases from Audi and BMW on the track debuts of their new racers.
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Audi A5 DTM in front of large crowd

- Grand appearance of new coupe at DTM finale
- Martin Tomczyk drives through Neckarsulm plant
- Audi factory driver Timo Scheider makes children's dreams come true

Ingolstadt, October 23, 2011 – Tom Kristensen opened Audi's touring car future with the new Audi A5 DTM at the DTM finale. The brand with the four rings skillfully played to the crowd with a number of other activities as well.

Premiere: For the first time the DTM audience experienced the new Audi A5 DTM on track. Le Mans record winner Tom Kristensen at the wheel of the new DTM race car for 2012 drove demo laps immediately before and after the DTM finale at Hockenheim together with the new DTM vehicles from BMW and Mercedes-Benz. Prior to the demo drive the fans had the opportunity to view the spectacular coupe in front of the Audi Lounge.

In the middle of the plant: The Audi team at the Neckarsulm location will celebrate Martin Tomczyk's title win with a grand appearance on Tuesday. At 11:10 a.m. the new DTM Champion will drive his winning car across the plant's premises. At the company restaurant the brand new champion will then sign autographs.

Fulfilling children's dreams: In support of the "Kindertraum" ("Children's Dream") campaign Timo Scheider and Audi helped make a child's dearest wish come true at the DTM finale at Hockenheim. 13-year-old André Keller who sits in a wheel chair and loves motorsport got to know a very personal side of the two-time DTM Champion. In addition, Scheider welcomed six children suffering from cancer who were visiting the Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline garage at Hockenheim as part of an activity held by the "Sternschnuppe" ("Shooting Star") initiative.

Test in the DTM Audi: Marco Wittmann, Laurens Vanthoor and Daniel Abt, the three top Volkswagen finishers of the 2011 Formula 3 Euro Series, are receiving a testing opportunity in an Audi DTM vehicle as a reward for their performance. Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich symbolically handed over models of the Audi A4 DTM in which the three junior drivers can prove their talent.

Resounding applause: Several hundred Audi employees visited the DTM finale at Hockenheim and kept their fingers crossed for their employer. In a marquee set up specifically for the employees the brand new champion Martin Tomczyk as well as Mattias Ekström, Mike Rockenfeller and Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich made an appearance that was met with resounding applause.

Prominent guests at Audi: The DTM finale attracted numerous prominent personalities to Hockenheim. Guests at Audi included hip hopper Smudo from the Fanta4, actor Till Demtrøder, TV host Andrea Kaiser and her husband Lars Ricken, a former professional soccer player and Champions League winner, as well as gymnast Magdalena Brzeska. Before the race the Audi factory driver Timo Scheider received the band Juli at his garage. Eva Briegel, Simon Triebel, Jonas Pfetzing, Dedi Herde and Marcel Römer received first-hand explanations of the DTM.

Home game: As a fitting complement to the visit by members of the nearby TSG 1899 Hoffenheim soccer club Audi presented an R8 LMS as a race taxi sporting the club's colors. Right after their home victory on Saturday Coach Holger Stanislawski, national players Andreas Beck and their fellow player Gylfi Sigurdsson, Chairman Peter Hofmann, Managing Directors Jochen A. Rotthaus and Frank Briel and Manager Ernst Tanner visited Audi at Hockenheim.

Sporty guests: Audi factory driver Mike Rockenfeller received a visit by members of the Rhein-Neckar-Löwen handball team at the DTM finale at Hockenheim. Oliver Roggisch, the 2007 World Champion, "cult" goalkeeper Henning Fritz and other national players were impressed with the Audi A4 DTM and the brand's appearance.

From Hockenheim to Heppenheim: After taking third place in qualifying on Saturday Martin Tomczyk directly went to Heppenheim where, under the auspices of partner Red Bull, he was a guest at the party for Formula 1 World Champion Sebastian Vettel. He appeared on stage in front of 30,000 fans, signed numerous autographs, promoted the DTM finale on Sunday and was back at Hockenheim on time for the "Meet the Team" event at night.

Unique gift: With self-designed movie posters depicting Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, Martin Tomczyk and his Team Director Ernst Moser as principal actors in the film "The Flight of the Phoenix" the ARD TV team extended their congratulations on the DTM title win.

Visit by many racers: At the DTM finale the Audi Team & Media Hospitality was not only the central meeting place for the nine DTM factory drivers. Also seen there, among others, were Tom Kristensen, Keke and Nico Rosberg, the brand new Italian GT Champion Marco Bonanomi, Markus Winkelhock, Pierre Kaffer, Christian Abt and the race taxi drivers Christer Jöns, Christopher Mies and Frank Stippler. Christer Jöns took the wheel of the Audi A4 DTM race taxi for the first time at Hockenheim. The 24-year-old junior driver from Ingelheim on the river Rhine was absolutely thrilled with the 460-HP race touring car.

Board members on location: Four of the seven members of the Board of Management of AUDI AG would not miss the DTM finale at Hockenheim. In addition to Rupert Stadler (Chairman of the Board of Management), Michael Dick (Technical Development), Axel Strotbek (Finance and Organization) and Thomas Sigi (HR and Social Affairs) attended the event at Hockenheim. Norbert Rank, Chairman of the Works Council at the Neckarsulm plant, visited the motorsport squad as well.

Exquisite line: The Audi Drive Away at the DTM finale at Hockenheim was dominated by the Audi A7 Sportback. An impressive line of 28 vehicles of the large five-door model with the dynamically flowing rear was driven around the Hockenheimring.

Congratulations to the winner: The many expressions of congratulations which Martin Tomczyk received as the brand new DTM Champion included numerous prominently displayed messages and symbols at the Hockenheim finale. Partner Schaeffler extended its congratulations in the form of a big "1" emblazoned on the roof of his Audi A4 DTM and in the garage of Audi Sport Team Phoenix. The Audi Team & Media Hospitality welcomed its guests with "Welcome to the 2011 DTM Champion" graphics above the entrance. Similar decorations were found at the Audi Lounge and the employees' marquee. Red Bull surprised Martin Tomczyk with a new helmet featuring a laurel wreath design. At the subsequent party the champion received a hood of his Audi A4 DTM with the signatures of all the team members.

Exclusive insights: Udo Weber received a personal explanation of the Schaeffler Audi A4 DTM by the new DTM Champion at Hockenheim. The 18-year-old had beaten Martin Tomczyk at the International Motor Show in Frankfurt at the "Schaeffler DTM Experience", a competition in the driving simulator.

New helmet design: At Hockenheim Rahel Frey started into her tenth DTM race with a redesigned helmet. The Swiss lady had received a helmet from her partner Capri-Sonne featuring the implementation of the best design entry submitted by a fan at a competition.

Duck at the DTM: The Tigerente (Tiger Duck) cartoon figure visited the DTM at the Lausitzring in June, taking a peek behind the scenes with Rahel Frey and Martin Tomczyk. The program is now about to be aired: Next Saturday, October 29, ARD will broadcast the result of the shoot at 7:35 in the morning on "Das Erste."

New generation: The latest model car generation of the Audi A4 DTM has arrived. Mattias Ekström, Mike Rockenfeller, Timo Scheider and Martin Tomczyk would not miss the opportunity at Hockenheim to personally accompany a photo shoot with the 1:43-scale models of their current DTM race cars.

Racing at the restaurant: When visiting their canteen at the Neckarsulm plant the employees can now marvel at a race car. An oversized banner on the wall shows the number "15" Audi R8 LMS that won the GT3 class at the 2011 Nürburgring 24 Hours with Frank Stippler/Marc Hennerici/Christopher Haase/Markus Winkelhock at the wheel.

Second place at the last race: Audi factory driver Timo Bernhard together with co-driver Klaus Wicha contested the 3-City-Rally in a private Porsche. At his last rally run of the current season the 2010 Le Mans winner, after posting four overall best times, finished as the runner-up despite a puncture.

Impressive experiences: Rahel Frey and Martin Tomczyk both enjoyed glider plane flights before the DTM finale. Together with David Friedrich from the national glider aerobatics team they took to the skies – an experience that included flying loops. Friedrich then visited the two racers at Hockenheim and was thrilled after a ride in the Audi race taxi.

Success in Brazil: At the eighth round of the Brazilian GT Championship at Campo Grande Wagner Ebrahim celebrated his first victory of the season in the Audi R8 LMS. The Brazilian won Saturday's race after 33 laps with a razor-thin lead of 0.416 seconds.

A brief interview with ... Hans-Jürgen Abt

Are you happy with the way the 2011 DTM season has ended?
"At Hockenheim we had dream weather and dream conditions. It's nice if you can make some dreams come true in such a case as well. We achieved our aims. It takes a lot to be the best team in the DTM. But Mattias Ekström's position as the runner-up also shows what a strong recovery he managed. A great day! And if you end on a positive note then you normally start the new year well again too."

Today the "junior" in your team finished very far at the front. Miguel Molina mounted the podium for the first time. Does that make you happy?
"It's a dream because it means that now all of our drivers have been on the podium at least once. Miguel showed a fantastic race. He might have even had the chance of finishing as the runner-up. But we also have to admit that Jamie Green drove a sensational race at the front of the field. 'Well done' to him and to Mercedes-Benz! You've got to recognize this. Everyone is happy. Tonight there'll be a big party. We can show whether we're also the best when it comes to celebrating."

Eliminating weaknesses has been one of the strengths of the team. How did you manage to do that during the course of the season?
"After the race at the Red Bull Ring we sat around a table. If the will exists, then you can move forward again too. The drivers and the team worked in a very positive sense and made the best out of the situation. I wouldn't have thought at that time that things would be going as well again as they did in the end. It shows that it pays to talk a lot to each other and to work together. We're a large family in which problems can come up now and then. We leveled with each other and clinched great results again."

The new Audi A5 DTM that was driving before and after the field at Hockenheim sparked the fans' interest in more. Yours probably too?
"I'm already looking forward to a new era in the DTM. Continuing with the new cars for Audi and meeting with BMW as another competitor is a huge challenge. For the team as well it's a huge task. It has to sort itself anew with the new technology. I know that I've got a tremendous squad. I look forward to us taking on the competition. That has always been our strength, particularly at the beginning of such a new era. We'll let ourselves be surprised."



BMW M3 DTM excites Fans in Hockenheim.

Hockenheim, 23rd October 2011. The BMW M3 DTM excited tens of thousands of fans at the DTM season finale at Hockenheim (DE). Dirk Werner (DE) completed two laps on the Hockenheim track in the "BMW M Performance Accessories M3 DTM", one immediately before the DTM race and one immediately afterwards, together with one Audi and one Mercedes-Benz. The three premium constructors that are involved in the series in future gave the fans on the grandstands and in front of their televisions a first taste of the coming year.

BMW Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt said: "This event was something very special for us. Since the early morning there have been clusters of people around our car, and it was simply breathtaking to be able to present our car in front of such a crowd. The reactions to our car were all positive. Today gave us all a lot of extra motivation to present ourselves in top form in half a year's time at the same venue."

BMW works driver Dirk Werner commented: "It was a great experience to be able to do today's demonstration laps. Obviously I drove the BMW M3 DTM at the recent tests – but a stage like this really is something special. You could feel the spine tingling atmosphere even in the car."

The new "BMW M Performance Accessories" livery of the BMW M3 DTM had been presented to a few members of the public at the BMW Autohaus Krauth in Heidelberg (DE) on Friday. Around three months earlier, on July 15th, the BMW M3 DTM concept car was officially presented at the BMW Welt in Munich (DE). From 2012 on, BMW will compete in the DTM with three strong teams, the BMW Team Schnitzer, the BMW Team RBM and the BMW Team RMG. The BMW works drivers Andy Priaulx (GB) and Augusto Farfus (BR) have already been confirmed as drivers for the 2012 season.