The DTM enters a new era in 2019 and Audi will be at the very forefront with a brand new race car.
4 January, 2019
The biggest difference in 2019 is the four-cylinder turbo, which has significantly more power output than before
The 2019 DTM season will herald in a raft of changes, the most significant of which is a new turbo-charged four-cylinder race car replacing the outgoing V8. Audi Magazine caught up with long-standing Audi factory driver and 2013 DTM Champion, Mike Rockenfeller, about the exciting new season ahead.
Audi Magazine: What’s new in the 2019 DTM?
Mike Rockenfeller: There are a lot of innovations for 2019, but the biggest difference is the four-cylinder turbo, which clearly has a higher power output. At the same time, our new car has more efficient aerodynamics. That’ll make us a lot faster on the straights. All in all, it’s the biggest change that I’ve seen in DTM. Being involved in it is very exciting. I’ve been driving with eight cylinders now for 12 years and am looking forward to something new. Plus, more power is always more fun.
Does it feel like the beginning of the new era?
Everyone in the team is highly motivated. The new car is like our new baby. Everyone is happy, even though we still have a lot of work to do. The new engine behaves differently than the old eight cylinder, whose characteristics we knew inside out. We only have a few tests in DTM and we need to make optimum use of them.
How does the turbo perform compared with the previous naturally aspirated V8 engine?
The aspirated engine delivered its power in a much more linear way and with its air restrictors reached its limit at about 500 horsepower (375kW). The turbo has less cubic capacity, four cylinders less and totally different characteristics. We have about 100 horsepower more output – obviously, you can feel that. The engine has greater thrust. Feeling its acceleration even in fourth, fifth and sixth gear is awesome. You do have tremendous power as soon as the turbo kicks in. The tyres are the same, but now 100 additional horses are driving the rear wheels, which makes them spin faster.
How much faster are the new DTM cars?
Depending on the track, the lap times will be two or three seconds faster than before. You approach the turns quicker and the braking phases become a little longer. We pass the straights faster because we’re driving at higher speeds – maybe at more than 300km/h for the first time!
How do you perceive the sound of the new turbo engines?
Inside the car itself, the sound isn’t that much different. However, when shifting into a lower gear, there’s a humongous roar in the tailpipes. That’s cool for us drivers and for the fans, too. On the whole, the engines are a little quieter but even so, you can hear and see that there’s a lot of power involved.
Depending on the track, the lap times will be as much as two or three seconds faster than before
We drive some 500 kilometres per test day and gather a lot of data that we analyse
What’s your assessment of the tests so far?
Obviously, you run into some minor issues here and there, but that’s why we test. On the whole, we’ve got a good base. We drive some 500 kilometres per test day and gather a lot of data that we analyse. We know where we still have to improve. There are only a total of seven pre-season test days left.
Were turbos the right choice for the DTM?
I’m happy that we’re making this move. It’s a huge step for the DTM and I’m extremely eager to see how the first race of the new DTM era will go. With Aston Martin joining, there’ll be a new brand and new faces as well. And the first joint race with the Japanese Super GT is planned. I’m sure the 2019 DTM will be mega thrilling.
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