The Audi TT has served as the basis for Team Abt Sportsline's assault on the DTM for four years, but the return of Audi as a factory force in the series also heralds the return of an old favourite.

The A4 DTM race car is currently being worked on at both Audi Sport locations in Ingolstadt and Neckarsulm, and harks back to the glory days which the marque enjoyed in touring car series around the world.

"The Audi A4 fits perfectly to the new DTM technical regulations, it is naturally sporting and is the Audi model sold most frequently in Germany," explains head of Audi Sport Dr Wolfgang Ullrich, "On top of this, the Audi A4 already has a deep rooted tradition in touring car racing."

Between 1995-99, the A4 quattro was the world's most successful super touring car. The 1996 season was particularly outstanding, as Audi won championship titles in seven countries. The current model has also already tasted success in motorsport as Team KMS Motorsport won the Swedish Touring Car Championship (STCC) at the first time of asking in with an A4 producing approximately 260 hp and designed in accordance with the Super 2000 regulations. The A4 DTM has very little in common with the 'Swedish' A4, however, having been a completely new development.

"We couldn't carry over many components from the TT either," explains Dr Ullrich.

Only the 450bhp V8 engine of the new A4 can be described as a development of the existing power unit, which was used during the 2003 DTM. On top of this, familiar components such as gearbox, driver safety cell and brakes, which are prescribed standard components for all DTM manufacturers, are retained.

Because a great deal of importance is placed on equipment parity and manageable costs in the DTM, the technical regulations leave the engineers very little room to manoeuvre.

"Nevertheless, we hope, based on Audi Sport's wealth of experience, to have found a few details that our competitors haven't come across," Dr Ullrich admits.

The first tests of the new Audi A4 DTM are already scheduled for 2003, and form an important piece of the jigsaw.

"You need sufficient time before the season starts to test a new car," Ullrich explains, "To make up a deficit during the season, is, as experience has shown, extremely difficult."

The two race teams, Abt Sportsline and Joest Racing, will be integrated early on in the test programme.

 

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