Could we finally have the DTM we deserve in 2012? Stunning two door coupes, less aero, more mechanical grip and all three of the heavyweight German auto-makers could make for a fantastic year ahead. Will it wipe out the memories of a few dull years for the world’s raciest tin-tops? There’s no need – I can barely remember many of the recent races anyway such has been the paucity of action.
Today at the Frankfurt Show both Mercedes and Audi have shown their C-Class and A5 DTM steeds respectively. The Audi features fantastic triangular wheel-arches and a stark rear-end free of flip-ups, quite a strong look. The Mercedes looks less like a Silver Arrow and more like a chrome cruiser, it’s over-sized wheel-arches holding deeper and wider Hancock tyres, the uniform rear wing jutting out like the handle on a shopping trolley. BMW’s M3 DTM has already wowed us with its Batmobile stylings, we could be in for a treat next season. The ears are already happy with the DTM’s rumbling V8s, but gone is the grumbling over the way the cars look. They are simply the best looking racers in the world today with the exception of a full field of GT3 machines.
The inclusion of a third manufacturer has prompted a driver merry-go-round for the first time in a while over in Germany. BMW have already got Priaulx and Farfus on board while Jorg and Dirk Muller have been out testing the M3. The clever money is on Canadian Bruno Spengler switching to the Bavarian motor which would be a coup in amongst the coupes. Spengler has been fighting for the DTM crown for six years and has never looked better. Indeed, he has been the top Mercedes pilot all season. Another driver in the frame for a Beemer is Nick Heidfeld. Although he is a solid driver in F1, Quick Nick would do well to get in on the ground floor of what the organisers are hoping will become the tin-top standard over the coming decade with Japan and the USA targeted to take on their new rulebook.
Now we need to see some good racing once more in the DTM. The fatter tyres, standard wings and greater competition may not be enough on its own. The reliance on pit strategy needs to either be lost or ramped up to F1 levels of tyre-shredding tactics. The current scenario is neither here nor there; I would much rather see the kind of racing we got when DTM races came in two parts as the series kicked back into life over ten years ago. Still, even back then there were problems. In August 2000 Wolfgang Ulrich was already criticising the racing after a particularly processional Sachsenring event, much to the dismay of Norbert Haug at Mercedes who didn’t see the problem. It’s just such a shame that the two big chiefs didn’t do something about it way back then.