A new frontier has become a real possibility, as the future of road racing looks incredibly bright, following from news this evening. GRAND-AM Road Racing, along with the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) have announced that they will now enter into a mutual licensing and co-operation agreement with the DTM rights holder ITR e.V.
Their plans are to achieve a North American version of the DTM itself, which is currently the most internationally recognized touring car series in the world to date, as the official press conference took place in the Gotham Ballroom of the InterContinental New York Times Square Hotel. All three organizations had representatives in attendance, as the momentous occasion of the evening came about when GRAND-AM Founder Jim France and ITR Chairman Hans-Werner Aufrecht signed the new agreement.
This now really opens the doors for what will now really be class as a global platform for manufacturers to shine on the track, as for the first time in the history of the sport, it gives all a chance to take part in a series that will be prominent in core market territories, but not only for the manufacturers already involved in the DTM/Super GT alliance that was formed late last year. Aufrecht said it would really blows the doors wide open for others to join in: “The new cooperation quite obviously also offers a new and extraordinary field of activity for the American premium manufacturers such as Cadillac, Lincoln or Dodge SRT within the framework of future motorsport programs. Now, we have to inform and thrill them together with our new partner GRAND- AM/IMSA and encourage them to get involved.”
GTA Chairman Massaki Bandoh said that this new beginning would further expand the way forward, so that GT/Touring car races could become globalized, meaning that all wanting to take part would need to co-operate with all parties that had decided to take a step forward into uncharted waters.
The current three European manufacturers that comprise the building blocks of the current “New-Era” DTM were very optimistic, but also realized the importance of how the new agreement would help in consumer attraction to their respective brands. Audi AG’s Wolfgang Dürheimer, recognized that this is an “exciting and interesting option” for Ingolstadt, and represents a bright future for their new DTM car: “This offers the opportunity to use the Audi RS 5 DTM in a premium race series not only in Europe but in Asia and North America too.”
BMW Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt said that Munich welcomed the steps forward that were being taken forward, to truly make the DTM become international, as a result of the GRAND-AM/IMSA co-operation: “We as BMW are extremely open-minded, regarding these plans. The North American market represents the biggest market area for BMW in general – and the biggest market area for BMW M vehicles, too. BMW has got a great motor-racing tradition in the USA and therefore, we are truly happy about the prospect to also see DTM vehicles racing in the USA, in the future.”
Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport Toto Wolff commented on the fact that the North American market is the biggest world-wide for Stuttgart, and was also happy about the long-term deal that had been struck up for the future: “Thanks to the technical basis agreed upon, we will be offered the opportunity to use our DTM cars to also demonstrate the competitiveness of our brand on U.S./North American race tracks, in the future.”
GRAND-AM President and CEO Ed Bennet said that announcing the news about United SportsCar Racing, which will be governed by IMSA, as of the declaration made on March 14th, will see the North American edition of the DTM become reality and thereby flourish, as long as talks with various automotive manufacturers come to fruition: “On the heels of our United SportsCar Racing and IMSA announcements, reaching this agreement adds to the momentum we’re experiencing right now.”
Newly-elected DMSB President, sports car racing legend Hans Stuck, said that to set up race series in the USA and Germany, for example, the cars have to make an impact and draw the crowds in, and considers the DTM template to be one that will bring success: “The technical DTM regulations that were developed by DMSB in close cooperation with the car manufacturers involved – Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz – combine this guideline with an extremely high safety level that also represents an international benchmark. We are delighted that these regulations will be used not only in Europe, in the future, but also in Japan and the U.S.”
So another step forwards will mean a generic form of Touring Car racing that will prosper and flourish on a uni-lateral competitive level, where the technical regulations will provide a single and universal platform for any auto manufacturer to show their hand, and see if their cars are amongst the best sports coupes in the world. 2015 could see a further “New-Era” for the DTM in a truly international aspect, as it heads towards a brighter future for all involved, with more hoping to join the party…