On the eve of the Frankfurt Motor Show, Audi has unveiled its much-anticipated 2012 DTM challenger – the A5 DTM. Bearing the internal project name “R17” at Audi Sport, the new A5 DTM conforms to the new technical regulations that will come into effect for the 2012 DTM season, which have been designed to achieve three key aims: improve the safety of the vehicle, reduce costs by up to 40 percent and showcase a spectacular exterior design.

The Audi A5 DTM appears lower and sturdier than its predecessor. Underneath the body, which is completely made of carbon, a new type of chassis features a hybrid construction. The combination of a carbon fibre monocoque and steel cage sets new standards in terms of safety for a touring car and is one of more than 50 components which are now identical across all DTM vehicles.

“Due to these shared components it was possible to achieve the cost reduction target of up to 40 percent without compromising on the safety and attractiveness of the DTM vehicles,” explains Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, who has been in charge of the new Audi A5 DTM development.

The A5 DTM is 5.01 meters long, 1.95 meters wide and 1.15 meters in height. The wheelbase of all DTM vehicles is identical at 2.75 meters. Like its predecessor, the A5 DTM is powered by a V8 engine with an output of around 453 bhp. The six-speed transmission, now pneumatically operated using paddle shifters in the steering wheel, is a new development on the A5 DTM. Shifting events are more precise compared with conventional manual gearshifts and enable the lifetime mileage of the unit to be quadrupled to 24,000 km.

A safety fuel tank with a capacity of 120 litres is integrated with the carbon fibre cell of the A5 DTM, and would allow the current distance of a DTM race to be covered without a refuelling stop. For longer races a quick refuelling system is in development.

The engine sub-frame at the front and the transmission at the rear are now standardised for all DTM cars and limit the freedom of the engineers with respect to the suspension, which has to be mounted to these shared components. In addition, steel as the material for the A-arms and the tube dimensions are defined by the series organisers. For the hub carrier, the regulations specify the material and the production process to be used and prescribe a milled aluminium part with a minimum weight. Furthermore, the regulations also define the wheel hubs and the rims used for all entrants.

Aerodynamics have also been restricted in the new regulations. Air flow through the body, as in the case of the current A4 DTM, and complex additional wings at the rear are no longer allowed. This creates a stronger visual resemblance between the race car and the road car, whilst at the same time the new DTM vehicles are less sensitive to body contact, so ‘rubbin’ is racing’ is likely to return to DTM in 2012.

“In the past, Audi has had very innovative solutions particularly in the area of aerodynamics in the DTM,” says Dr. Martin Mühlmeier, Head of Engineering at Audi Sport. “Since these areas have been subjected to severe restrictions good detailed solutions will now be crucial to achieving advantages over the competition.”