The new for 2012 BMW M3 DTM car took its bow yesterday in Munich with drivers Andy Priaulx and Augusto Farfus on hand to present their impressive new steed. It’s only taken 12 years for BMW to embrace the ‘new’ DTM, at least they’ve finally made it. I remember excitedly looking at drawings of a forthcoming BMW DTM car in Autosport way back in 1999, over a decade on and at last we have the M3 back where it belongs in top-line touring car competition.
The original E30 BMW M3 was a simple collection of three boxes perched on four circles of rubber, the kind of car that a child could sketch in seconds. The BMW M3 bound for the DTM has matured into a larger, curvier creation with more cylinders and many more wings than before, you’d struggle to draw the more intricate details with crayons although colouring in this mean matte-black machine wouldn’t be too challenging in its minimal livery. So the Batmobile is back, though this time it is more Christian Bale to the CSL’s Adam West.
This M3 concept looks set to be the first of a few sports coupes to grace the DTM as Audi also showed sketches of a two-door A5 this week. Thank goodness for that, the DTM eschewed sports cars to accommodate the Vectra only for Opel to quit the series a couple of years later. I’m chuffed that sleek shapes are making a comeback in the DTM, yet I’m dismayed that the safer and cheaper 2012 rules clearly still demand all manner of aerodynamic trinkets. The racing in DTM has been average lately – and that’s putting it very kindly. The GT3 machines in the ADAC series have been far more entertaining this year and they deserve to have the big crowds and international profile that the DTM still clings to.
I thoroughly approve of the throaty V8s pushing round a bespoke carbon fibre chassis, although you don’t need to have Adrian Newey’s aerodynamic nous to know that the many downforce-generating protrusions aren’t welcome in tin-tops even if they give a static DTM car a most arresting stance. Lets just have a front and rear wing with some bulbous wheel-arches and leave it there. The longer race formats haven’t done the series any favours either, although the V8 Supercars down under prove that longer touring car races can still be thrilling if you have the right cars.
The new rules in DTM really matter – they look likely to be shared by Super GT in Japan and a new touring car series proposed for the USA. BMW always said they would only return to the DTM when the opportunity to run the cars in other series arose to help justify their investment. Despite no definitive word on the DTM rulebook spreading globally yesterday’s revealing of the M3 has to be a great sign that we will see other countries and their manufacturers embracing the German way of doing things. Here’s hoping that the GTR, Camaro, Mustang and other dream machines that can be bought with a salary raise rather than a lottery win will all be seen trading paint together across different continents.