Berger targeting 20 cars, five manufacturers in DTM 2021

DTM chief Gerhard Berger is expecting at least 20 cars from five different manufacturers to compete in the first season of the series’ GT3 era in 2021.

Although Audi's decision to quit the DTM as a factory entrant has led to a premature end of the Class One ruleset in Europe, it has also prompted ITR to adopt GT3 regulations, hence opening the DTM to a wide variety of manufacturers and teams that couldn't previously compete in the series due to high costs.

The 2020 DTM season featured just two manufacturers in Audi and BMW following the exit of R-Motorsport Aston Martin, and a record-low of 16 cars despite a push by Berger to bump up the grid size.

While BMW's participation at the start of next season remains in doubt until its new M4 GT3 car is fully developed, Berger has promised at least four customer Audis on the grid, with two of those slots already filled after Abt announced last week it would remain in the series as a two-car team.

The representation of two more manufacturers has also been confirmed, with GruppeM (Mercedes), 2 Seas Motorsports and Jenson Team Rocket RJN (both McLaren) all revealing their plans to race in the DTM next year.

Speaking in an interview with the official DTM site, Berger said he is targeting a 20-strong grid in 2021, something that was last witnessed in the final year of Mercedes's tenure in 2018.

This is higher than Berger's previous goal of 18 cars set in October - which he said would make him "satisfied but disappointed at the same time".

"For 2021, my major goal is to have 20 cars from at least five different brands on the grid," Berger said. "On top of that strong drivers, a balance of performance that is working and a battle for the title that goes down to the wire, the final race.

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"The primary goal is to get together a high-class field with top-level drivers and the corresponding teams. That is by no means evident given the current situation with the pandemic. 

"But we are working hard to achieve this. Hard work is also going on concerning the BoP and the paddock concept. Here, too, it is about finding the right partners and continuing existing partnerships. 

"Of course, we hope that the pandemic is more or less in control at the time of our planned season start, so that, if possible, we can also have spectators on site again as well."

The ITR had previously prepared a roadmap for the DTM that involved adding a hybrid element to existing engines in 2022 before switching to all-electric cars in 2025, but these plans were scuppered when Audi's exit brought Class One regulations to a premature end.

The DTM has since revealed a 1000bhp all-electric prototype that will have a power-to-weight ratio of a Formula 1 car, for a support series that could be launched as early as 2023.

Berger said the DTM continues to evaluate various technologies for a more sustainable future, with a plan to make the whole platform carbon neutral in next five-to-10 years.

"We are particularly working on technologies that are viable for the future," said Berger. "In the process, we are incorporating the most varied approaches, from hybrid technology with highly-efficient internal combustion engines via synthetic fuels or fully electric vehicles up to hydrogen technology. 

"Motorsport has always played a major role in accelerating the development of technical innovations. Therefore, it is important to be able to showcase as many technologies as possible on the DTM platform. Another important element is to be as close as possible to the technology in order to be able to identify which technology will be leading for the future.

"Our goal is to implement more sustainability step by step. Between 2025 and 2030, we want to become carbon-neutral, and not just concerning the race cars at the track, but across the entire platform, including the partners that are represented there."

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