Audi Sport has confirmed that it will be leaving the DTM Series at the end of the 2020 season, leaving the endangered championship with just one manufacturer for 2021 and beyond.
In a statement released on Monday afternoon, the marque said that it will now focus its motorsport attentions on ABB Formula E and customer racing.
An ever-present force in Formula E, Audi stated that – in five years’ time – it wishes to have 40 percent of its sales attributed to electric and plug-in-hybrid vehicles.
The decision was also made with the vast negative economic impacts the coronavirus crisis is causing – but Audi had suggested that its long-term future in the DTM was under threat prior to the pandemic.
ITR chairman Gerhard Berger reacted to a “difficult day” for the series by saying that the timeframe of events leaves the DTM in an uncertain situation.
“I deeply regret Audi’s decision to withdraw from the DTM after the 2020 season,” said Berger.
“While we respect the board’s position, the short-term nature of this announcement presents ITR, our partner BMW and our teams with a number of specific challenges.
“Given our common association, and the particular difficulties we all face during the COVID-19 pandemic, we would have hoped for a more united approach.
“This decision worsens the situation, and the future of the DTM now very much depends on how our partners and sponsors react to this decision.
“Nevertheless, I fully expect Audi to undertake its planned exit properly, responsibly and in full partnership with ITR.
“My commitment remains to the year ahead, and to ensuring we provide our hundreds of thousands of fans with a thrilling and competitive season.
“But, as soon as possible, I also want to create planning security for our participating teams, sponsors and everybody whose job depends on the DTM.“
R-Motorsport/Aston Martin withdrew from the series after just one year back in January, meaning that the ITR has lost two full teams in the first quarter of 2020.
Mercedes-Benz ceased its highly successful programme at the end of ’18, leaving BMW Motorsport as the only brand standing in what could be its tenth DTM season next year.
16 cars are scheduled to race in the delayed 2020 season, with both BMW and Audi offering extra privateer entries to fill out the grid in the wake of Aston Martin’s departure.
Markus Duesmann, Chairman of the Board of Management of Audi AG, said that both parties have had huge effects on each other over the course of the last 30 years – but Audi’s future vision means that there is now incompatibility.
“Audi has shaped the DTM and the DTM has shaped Audi,” Duesmann reflected.
“This demonstrates what power lies in motorsport – technologically and emotionally.
“With this energy, we’re going to drive our transformation into a provider of sporty, sustainable electric mobility forward.
“That’s why we’re also focusing our efforts on the race track and systematically competing for tomorrow’s ‘Vorsprung.’”
“Formula E offers a very attractive platform for this. To complement it, we’re investigating other progressive motorsport formats for the future.”