While most of Audi's racing limelight has fallen on the all-conquering R10 TDI Le Mans racer of late, that particularly-glamorous series is far from being the only field where Audi competes today. The previous racing-focused blog entries have showcased the Auto Union Silver Arrows and the quattro rally cars. This time, we'll be taking a look at a very different type of Audi racer...
Audi & The DTM
Over the past twenty years, the DTM (Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters) has risen to become one of the world's leading touring car championships and since 2000, the cars involved have become ever more exciting, now essentially silhouette racers, with purpose-built frames made of steel tubing and carbon fibre bodies. Indeed, drivers have compared the cars' handling characteristics to single-seater track racing cars.
The 2008 Audi A4 DTM
Audi started out in DTM racing cars based on the TT, but switched to saloon bodies in 2004 with great success. Initially, the series was a three-way battle between Opel, Audi and Mercedes, but since Opel's decision to pull out in 2005, it's been a straight-out fight between Audi's A4 and Mercedes' AMG.
DTM cars are designed to be as fast as possible to provide spectators with plenty of action, while not costing too much to build or run. All the cars have rear-wheel-drive and 4.0-litre V8 engines restricted to a maximum of 470 hp. The carbon fibre bodies have the roof sections of the road cars on which they are based, but while the rest of the styling is designed to bear a resemblance to said road cars, the shapes actually differ quite considerably as they are wind-tunnel tested and the shapes crafted accordingly for maximum aerodynamics. And of course, the underpinnings don't necessarily bear any relation to the equivalent vehicles that you'll see in showrooms - not least because a lot of the racing cars' components come from third-party specialist suppliers and are the same across all the vehicles in the championship, whatever the vehicle's manufacturer. These include the transmissions, brakes and Dunlop tyres and the standardisation is done for reasons of cost and to provide a close and exciting race.
Indeed, while Le Mans may have the glamour, as you'll see in this clip produced by Audi themselves in 2008, the DTM doesn't lack for drama!
The 2008 championship didn't lack for success either, as Timo Schneider clinched the top spot for Audi in his A4, with no less than three single race victories, following on from Mattias Ekstrom's win the previous year. As such, Audi has entered the 2009 season with an even more improved version of the A4 DTM and every intention of emerging as the champions for the third year in a row - which would be a very fitting victory in its centenary year...
The A4 DTM poses with the R10 TDI
The Model A4 DTM (& an R10!)
The full-size 2007 A4 DTM is made up of about 6000 components, with 28 metres of steel tubing going into the chassis alone! The body was styled after the B7 Audi A4 but, as above, under the skin, the DTM car is a completely different animal (although a special high-performance commemorative DTM edition of the road car has been produced). The DTM track car boasts 460bhp, an Xtrac or Hewland six-speed-sequential manual gearbox and that space frame chassis developed by Dallara, the famous Italian racing chassis manufacturer who have developed chassis for Formula One, Formula 3 and countless other series.
2007 was the year in which Mattias Ekstrom won Audi's fifth overall DTM title in the team category, and the second year in which, bucking the trend, female drivers took part in the championship. The previous year, Vanina Ickx, daughter of legendary driver Jacky Ickx, had started driving for Audi and Susie Stoddart had driven for Mercedes. Ickx returned for 2007 and this Minichamps model depicts her car, the number 21 Castrol-sponsored A4 DTM in silver. It doesn't quite have the 6000 separate parts of the real car (although taking into consideration that it's 43 times smaller, it still has an incredible number of individual components - over 60!) It also boasts a completely-authentic livery thanks to Minichamps' usual high-quality mix of mask-spraying, decals and tampos!
Minichamps' 2007 A4 TDM as driven by Vanina Ickx
While the full-size A4 DTM and R10 TDI are very different vehicles, there is one field where they can be compared - and that's in small scale. Putting the Minichamps A4 DTM side-by-side with the company's 1/43 model of the 2008 Le Mans winning R10 TDI is quite an eye-opener. Not least because the R10 TDI model, which, with its many aerials, aerofoils and mirrors you might expect to have more separate parts than the A4 TDI actually has slightly less, with just under 60 components, although the livery boasts the same intricate work with mask-spraying, tampos and decaling. However, the R10 model is some 40 grams heavier, possibly due to the more all-enveloping bodywork upping the metal quotient of the model.
The Minichamps Le Mans winner R10 TDI
Both these two fantastic Audi racing models are now up for auction in our special forum section here, along with all the previous models featured on the blog.
Next week, in our final blog entry, we'll be looking at Audi's flagship supercar, the R8, and the model R8 we'll be featuring is the Kyosho 1/18 R8 in Sepang Blue.
As the Audi auctions end next Thursday night, this model's auction thread is also going live this week alongside the DTM A4 and R10 TDI, so users will have enough time to bid on it. You can find it here.
As ever, all proceeds go to the Helen & Douglas House, which provides hospice and respite care for children and young adults.
For more information about the range of model cars available from Audi, please visit www.audi.co.uk/merchandise