Audi has officially unveiled the car that it hopes will be good enough to keep the DTM champions trophy at Ingolstadt in 2008, using the Geneva Motor Show to take the covers of the A4 DTM.

Although Mattias Ekstrom eventually came out on top of the 2007 struggle, Audi has wasted no effort in making sure that the latest machine is an improvement on its predecessor, and the upgrade goes more than skin deep - although that appeared to be enough for champion Ekstrom.

"If the new A4 DTM is as quick as it looks, then I'll be satisfied," the Swede smiled after helping to take the wraps off the car.

Although most visitors to the show will have cast an eye over what appears to be an even more dynamic appearance than that which graced the 2007 car, he fourth-generation A4 DTM - which bears the internal project name 'R14' - is also improved from a technical aspect.

With the help of state-of-the-art CFD calculations, particular attention was paid to the airflow running around and through the car.

"In doing so, we completed what we had already started last year with the R13," explains head of Audi Motorsport Dr Wolfgang Ullrich, "We are convinced that we have achieved the most logical optimisation of the aerodynamics allowed within the framework of the regulations."

During the twelve-month development period, which started in March 2007, a predominantly new car, differing in many details to its predecessor, was created in Ingolstadt and Neckarsulm.

"Ground-breaking technical innovations on a par with quattro, FSI or TDI are not possible owing to the restrictive nature of the regulations," admitted head of technology Dr Martin M?hlmeier, "In the DTM, it's more a question of the logical interpretation and implementation of the technology allowed."

The development process has resulted in a reduction of the car's dry weight and a lowering of its centre of gravity, both of which give the race engineers more flexibility to set the car up to suit specific race tracks and the weight distribution. The technicians also found development potential in the four-litre V8, looking to improve its near 460hp and torque curve by reducing internal friction.

The basic principle of the vehicle, as stipulated by the regulations, remains the same, with almost 31 metres of steel tube - as used in the aerospace industry - and a purpose-built carbonfibre safety cell clothed in bodywork made from carbonfibre composite that - in spite of all the aerodynamic appendages that sully the silhouette - remains identifiable as an Audi A4.

The most important components of the new car were tested immediately after the end of the 2007 DTM season, while the first R14 prototype completed its roll-out shortly before Christmas at Paul Ricard, and will have completed several thousand test kilometres - including endurance tests - before the opening round of the series next month.

"The new road-going A4 has already won many international awards in a very short period of time," Ullrich concluded, "Now we aim to do these awards justice with the new DTM car. We are convinced that the new Audi A4 is an excellent base for a successful DTM car."

The new A4 DTM will meet its opposition head-on at the first official test of the season, at Mugello, over 10-12 March. The 2008 car is expected to be used by Ekstrom, Martin Tomczyk, Tom Kristensen and Timo Scheider, while Alex Premat, Mike Rockenfeller, Oliver Jarvis and Markus Winkelhock will use the 2007 version. Katherine Legge and whoever emerges as the Briton's team-mate will use the 2006-spec A4.


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