Aston Martin is to join the DTM Series, potentially as early as 2019.
Following Mercedes‘ shock decision to leave the DTM, the future of the series has been cast in doubt.
However, with Audi and BMW both committing their futures to the championship they will not be going anywhere anytime soon.
Chairman of the ITR, Gerhard Berger said: “This decision of a luxury sports-car manufacturer such as Aston Martin is a historic event for our series and a milestone for the international orientation of DTM.”
Rumours have been circulating in the paddock since July about a potential Aston Martin entry to the series which seem to be the reality.
The British manufacturer will be represented by Team R-Motorsport with development of the Vantage based race cars scheduled to join the field at the start of 2019.
Team R-Motorsport is part of AF Racing AG that has close ties with Aston Martin, having entered the cars mainly in GT Racing..
AF Racing AG will be responsible for the DTM that will be licensed and supported by Aston Martin as well as recently founding a joint venture with HWA AG who have run Mercedes teams over the years.
Due to this extensive DTM experience, HWA are regarded as the perfect partner for the project.
CEO of HWA, Ulrich Fritz, said: “The very heart of the DTM is to be found beating in Affalterbach. This is where the ‘new era’ DTM was given a major boost, and it is home to the most successful team in the history of the series, namely HWA AG.
“After the many successful years we have spent collaborating with Mercedes-AMG, the entire team is thrilled to be writing a new chapter in the DTM with R-Motorsport and Aston Martin. In our planned joint venture, we have created an excellent basis for building on the successes of the past. It will certainly be a big challenge for all of us, but we will do our utmost to bring a competitive package to the start of the DTM season.”
“Entering the DTM is a great challenge for our joint venture. We are relying on the expertise of our partners at HWA AG, the most successful company in the history of the DTM, with whom we will take the DTM project forward,” said Dr Florian Kamelger co-owner of AF Racing AG and the Team Principle of R-Motorsport. “The aim of our joint venture in the DTM is to plan out our involvement in the series with the appropriate level of resources whilst maintaining cost-efficiency. The industry has long been successful in adhering to this principle; in motorsport we are one of the pioneers of this very sensible approach.”
Dr Andy Palmer, President and Group Chief Executive Officer, of Aston Martin Lagonda, added: “We are pleased to welcome the engagement in DTM of AF Racing AG, an enduring partner of our company. This project shows the increasing interest in the Aston Martin brand from leading private teams such as R-Motorsport. Alongside our factory investment with Aston Martin Racing into the World Endurance Championship with the Vantage GTE, and our Aston Martin Racing commitments to customers and official partner teams in GT3 and GT4 the DTM entry of R-Motorsport provides an important extension to our other motor sport program. As new entrants into DTM, we wish R-Motorsport every success as they prepare for the 2019 season.”
No team in DTM history has racked up as many victories, podiums or titles as HWA therefore the Affalterbach based outfit will have prime responsibility for the racing, development and testing aspect.
Rivals Audi and BMW have been keen to welcome their new competitors to the series.
Head of Audi Motorsport Dieter Gass, said: “We are looking forward to having AF Racing in cooperation with the tradition-rich brand Aston Martin aboard. Thanks to this step it’s guaranteed that DTM will provide motor racing at a high sporting and technical level, with premium manufacturers on the grid.
“I believe that Aston Martin, Audi and BMW will make for thrilling top-class motor sport. We had tough times and we fought hard, with great support of all the manufacturers involved, ITR and – last but not least – Gerhard Berger. I’m happy that we now finally can announce the future involvement of Aston Martin and that the success story of DTM will be continued.”
Jens Marquardt of BMW added: “This step gives all those involved planning reliability. After the surprising announcement of Mercedes to retire from DTM we early committed to the series and promised the fans to fight for its future. And we did so successfully. Our trust in the continuity of DTM and the numerous hours we worked jointly with ITR and Audi paid off. We really have to thank Gerhard Berger whose tireless efforts proved to be successful. Aston Martin are well respected and appreciated competitors in GT racing.
“We are delighted with having the opportunity to now also race against them in DTM. Due to the ‘CLASS 1’ regulations and the international prospects for DTM, the past months already were filled with an optimistic atmosphere. And thanks to the involvement of Aston Martin, the lights definitely are switched to green. No we should fully focus on the racing.”
The plan is for the team to enter four cars, under the new Class One regulations coming into effect next year.
Speculation is rife as to who may find themselves in those seats with Nicki Thiim, son of DTM legend and 1986 champion Kurt Thiim, likely to be the favourite.
Jake Dennis is currently a R-Motorsport driver who does a lot of work for Aston Martin and could find himself handed a drive.
Another, Alex Lynn has not been retained by DS Virgin in Formula E and races for Aston Martin in the WEC.
Maxime Martin could prove valuable with extensive DTM experience and as another current Aston Martin driver could find himself returning to the DTM.
In addition, the aim of the joint venture is a strategic innovation partnership for development projects in motor racing and in the automative sector.
Before then, the finale of the 2018 season takes place this weekend at Hockenheim as Mercedes bow out of the series.