What R-Motorsport Aston's exit means for DTM

The DTM went to great lengths to secure a third manufacturer in Aston Martin for 2019. But with Aston licensee R-Motorsport announcing its exit on the eve of the new season, the series finds itself back at square one.

What R-Motorsport Aston's exit means for DTM

As recently as the SUPER GT x DTM Dream Race in November, ITR chairman Gerhard Berger was “relaxed” about R-Motorsport’s short-term future in the series.

The DTM head honcho cited R-Motorsport’s order for spares - related to the series’ common parts - as a sign that the Swiss outfit was committed to a second season in 2020.

However, as the days went by question marks began to emerge over R-Motorsport’s ability to continue racing in the category.

At the centre of the uncertainty was a lack of an engine deal following R-Motorsport’s split with HWA. The German engine specialist had formed a joint venture with R-Motorsport before 2019, having been left without a team as a consequence of Mercedes’ departure from the series.

But amid the backdrop of an underpowered and unreliable engine, things turned sour between the two camps as the season wore on, and they eventually parted ways in October.

Following the split, R-Motorsport was left to assess its other options to secure a replacement engine in time for the 2020 season. It is understood that BMW had emerged as its primary candidate, and the Bavarian-brand was willing to supply engines for its four Vantages.

Despite both parties being keen, no deal could be reached and R-Motorsport subsequently announced its decision to step down from the series on FridaySo what went wrong at the Swiss squad over the course of the winter?

It turns out that R-Motorsport’s decision to part ways with HWA had much bigger ramifications than originally envisaged.

The four Vantages built by R-Motorsport ended up in HWA’s possession following the split - as opposed to being sold to a third-party buyer, as previously reported - despite the Swiss squad being the sole holder of the Aston Martin DTM license.

There were also financial implications from the split that which would have hurt a privateer squad like R-Motorsport, especially given its involvement in GT3 racing and Aston Martin's hypercar project with the Valkyrie (remember that R-Motorsport parent company AF Racing is a joint partner with Aston itself and Red Bull in the development of the Valkyrie road car).

Even if R-Motorsport and BMW had gone ahead with the engine deal, the team would have faced a race against time to get its cars modified to fit the German manufacturer’s engine.

The Vantage’s cooling system was designed with the HWA engine in mind and the Vantage would have required changes to the front end to accommodate a BMW motor. Moreover, the team would have to complete the redesigning job without the actual cars while they remained in the possession of HWA.

Ultimately, R-Motorsport decided that it was better off not competing in the DTM altogether and join another series instead. The Swiss squad has yet to reveal its plans for 2020, but it is believed that it will switch over to the ADAC GT Masters with a GT3-spec Vantage, on top of its existing commitments in GT World Challenge Europe (formerly Blancpain GT Series).

R-Motorsport's withdrawal leaves the DTM with two manufacturers for the first time since the 2011 season, prior to the arrival of BMW.

It effectively means that Berger and co. are left in the same position as the one in which they found themselves in the summer of 2017, when Mercedes announced its forthcoming departure from the series in favour of an assault on Formula E.

In 2018, Berger successfully persuaded Aston to join the DTM - by way of a licensing deal with R-Motorsport - in what was seen as a major victory for the series’ new boss. But now, Berger will be forced to go through that process all over again.

There are no short-term threats to the DTM’s future as both BMW and Audi had agreed to accept a transitional year with two manufacturers in light of the R-Motorsport rumours. 

That agreement also provides for Audi and BMW to help bolster the grid with additional customer entries - something Audi has already been doing since last year with a pair of RS5 DTMs run by WRT. BMW, too, could theoretically run customer cars in 2020 - something that would allow Robert Kubica to join the grid.

But whether the DTM's remaining manufacturers will both be content for there to be no new entries in 2021 is a major question mark, putting huge pressure on Berger and his team - already busy enough trying to manage the transition to a hybrid-powered future and strengthening ties with SUPER GT in the wake of the Dream Race.

The Austrian will no doubt be banking on those latter elements to try and entice another major auto maker on the grid. But until he does that, the series' future appears anything but secure.

Paul Di Resta, R-Motorsport, Aston Martin Vantage AMR

Paul Di Resta, R-Motorsport, Aston Martin Vantage AMR

Photo by: Alexander Trienitz

shares
comments
R-Motorsport Aston Martin pulls out of DTM
Previous article

R-Motorsport Aston Martin pulls out of DTM

Next article

Aberdein poised for works BMW DTM drive

Aberdein poised for works BMW DTM drive
The longest-serving Red Bull driver revealing F1’s true brutality Prime

The longest-serving Red Bull driver revealing F1’s true brutality

His day of days in Formula 1 came at Indianapolis in 2005, a day grand prix racing strives to forget. But Patrick Friesacher, the long-serving Red Bull lieutenant, remains active today driving a two-seater that provides ordinary people with a glimpse of an F1 car’s savage potential, including this writer...

Formula 1
Jun 2, 2022
How the DTM has come back stronger from its Norisring nadir Prime

How the DTM has come back stronger from its Norisring nadir

OPINION: Questionable driving standards and farcical team orders meant the DTM's first season under GT3 regulations ended under a cloud. But the organisation has responded firmly by banning team orders and welcomed new manufacturers, making for an intriguing season ahead as new and returning names prepare for battle.

DTM
Mar 30, 2022
The remarkable career of 'classy' champion Martin Tomczyk Prime

The remarkable career of 'classy' champion Martin Tomczyk

Over two decades as a factory driver with Audi and BMW, Martin Tomczyk earned the respect of teammates and rivals as a hard but fair racer. After calling time on his racing career, the 2011 DTM champion sat down with Motorsport.com to look back.

GT
Mar 5, 2022
Jamie Green: The other Hamilton conqueror seeking career revival Prime

Jamie Green: The other Hamilton conqueror seeking career revival

On his rise through the ranks before reaching Formula 1, Lewis Hamilton was usually a cut above the rest. But he never truly asserted himself over a Mercedes-backed fellow Briton who traded single-seaters for touring cars and is now seeking new opportunities after a year largely spent on the sidelines.

DTM
Dec 18, 2021
How the DTM's shambolic finale poses awkward future questions Prime

How the DTM's shambolic finale poses awkward future questions

OPINION: The scenes at the Norisring as Mercedes used blatant team orders to secure the first DTM title of the new GT3 era totally undermined the credibility of the championship. But as well as overshadowing the season, it also presents uncomfortable questions to series bosses about the direction it is headed in.

DTM
Oct 12, 2021
How Audi's new DTM flagbearer is closing on his "childhood dream" Prime

How Audi's new DTM flagbearer is closing on his "childhood dream"

Having learned the ropes in GT3 alongside Rene Rast, Kelvin van der Linde is in line to take up the three-time champion's baton as Audi's new DTM king. From humble origins in South Africa, it's been a remarkable journey so far for the current series leader, but he knows that the 2021 title is a long way from settled just yet.

DTM
Sep 18, 2021
The number-crunching behind the new-look DTM's equalisation drive Prime

The number-crunching behind the new-look DTM's equalisation drive

Switching to GT3 regulations marked a fresh start for the DTM in 2021, but it has also drawn a line in the sand against other series using similar cars by engaging AVL Racing to develop a bespoke Balance of Performance system. Here’s how it works.

DTM
Jul 23, 2021
The initial verdict on DTM's move to GT3 cars Prime

The initial verdict on DTM's move to GT3 cars

OPINION: Facing collapse last year, the DTM has shifted its philosophy from a championship for silhouette-based touring cars to GT machines not too dissimilar to those racing across multiple series worldwide. But despite some initial BoP-based teething troubles, there were some pleasant findings as the 'new DTM' got underway at Monza

DTM
Jun 22, 2021