Rockenfeller splits with Audi, to step down from DTM

Mike Rockenfeller will pull the curtain down on a glittering 15-year career in the DTM after announcing a split with Audi during the penultimate round of the season at Hockenheim.

Rockenfeller splits with Audi, to step down from DTM

Rockenfeller has been a mainstay in Audi’s DTM roster since 2007 and won the 2013 title in dominant fashion from the BMW of Augusto Farfus while driving for the Phoenix Racing team.

The German was one of two Audi drivers to remain in the DTM following its transition to a customer-based GT3 formula in 2021, and was placed by the German manufacturer at its factory-supported Abt Sportsline team.

While Rockenfeller hasn’t been able to match the pace of teammate and GT3 specialist Kelvin van der Linde, particularly struggling in qualifying, he has finished on the podium in four of the seven rounds so far and currently sits a respectable eighth in the standings.

The 37-year-old will retire from the DTM after the 2021 season with at least six race wins, 35 podiums and six pole positions on top of his championship success in 2013.

Rockenfeller announced his decision to step down from the DTM after finishing third in the opening race at Hockenheim, passing van der Linde's title rival Liam Lawson on the final lap with a bold move at Turn 8.

“I would like to take the opportunity also to announce that this year will be my last DTM season together with Audi,” said Rockenfeller. “So let's see what comes in the future but I think it's a good moment after a good race.

"I will definitely do some other programmes which I cannot say yet, and it was an amazing time for sure, 15 years I really enjoyed it, especially with [Wolfgang] Ullrich and Dieter Gass. 

“They really supported me a lot and we had a lot of success together. For sure ups and downs, it was a good time so I think it's always a nice environment to use this opportunity and say some words, that's why.”

2013 champion Mike Rockenfeller visits the Audi factory

2013 champion Mike Rockenfeller visits the Audi factory

Photo by: Audi Communications Motorsport

Rockenfeller will also part ways with Audi at the conclusion of the current DTM season, bringing an end to an association that also yielded outright victory in the Le Mans 24 Hours in 2010.

The German driver was coy about his plans for next year, but strongly hinted that he could switch to endurance racing ahead of the introduction of the LMDh class in 2023.

Rockenfeller has contested a number of enduros over the last two decades alongside his primary commitment in the DTM, winning the Rolex 24 Hours overall with Action Express Racing in 2010.

He was also a part of Corvette’s factory line-up at Daytona and Le Mans for a number of years, but hasn’t contested a race with the American brand since the COTA round of the FIA World Endurance Championship early last year.

More recently, he contested this year's Rolex 24 at Daytona in an Action Express Racing Cadillac he shared with Kamui Kobayashi, Simon Pagenaud and Jimmie Johnson.

“It was a long time [since I joined Audi], 15 years, not many drivers can say that,” Rockenfeller added. “And I was five years before that with Porsche, so in a way 20 years in a row connected to two [Volkswagen Group] brands. 

“For sure it's nice on one hand. On the other hand a lot of stuff changed in Audi, all the people changed and I don't really see my future there and I'm looking for some new challenges.

“I always didn't make a secret that I like endurance racing and prototypes, so maybe you will see me somewhere around there next year, maybe something else, I don't know. 

“[DTM] is over after Norisring and there's a big passion for DTM [in me]. But I have to think about it and see if there are good options [outside of the DTM] where it makes sense.”

#48 Action Express Racing Cadillac DPi: Jimmie Johnson, Kamui Kobayashi, Simon Pagenaud, Mike Rockenfeller

#48 Action Express Racing Cadillac DPi: Jimmie Johnson, Kamui Kobayashi, Simon Pagenaud, Mike Rockenfeller

Photo by: Michael L. Levitt / Motorsport Images

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