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How Audi's factory GT3 exit could impact its DTM teams

Audi’s decision to end factory involvement in GT3 racing in 2024 has left its three DTM teams with an uncertain future.

Kelvin van der Linde, Team ABT Sportsline Audi R8 LMS GT3

As reported by Motorsport.com earlier in May, Audi will restructure its GT3 programme next year by limiting its participation to technical support and supply of spare parts.

This could have a serious impact on its DTM teams, which have relied not only on Audi’s financial backing but also factory drivers since the series switched to a GT3 formula in 2021.

Abt Sportsline has a 24-year-old history with Audi, but recently inked a deal with another Volkswagen Group marque Lamborghini to run its Huracan GT3 in the NLS series, including the 24 Hours of Nurburgring 24 Hours.

It remains unclear if Abt will continue to run Audi cars in the DTM next year.

"First of all, it is positive news that Audi Sport Customer Racing will continue and that the supply of parts and technical support will also be guaranteed in the future,” said Abt Sportsline director Martin Tomczyk

“This basically gives us the option of continuing to compete with Audi in the DTM.”

Tomczyk added that Abt will engage in "intensive talks with Audi and our partners" in the coming weeks, but despite past success "other scenarios are also being considered.”

While Abt is evaluating its manufacturer of choice, Attempto has made it clear that it would like to continue its association with the Ingolstadt-based marque in 2024.

The team currently competes in both the DTM and SRO’s GT World Challenge Europe with the R8 LMS GT3, the production of which will be stopped after the first quarter of 2024.

“We remain loyal to the brand,” team boss Arkin Aka told Motorsport.com’s sister title Motorsport-Total.com. 

“It's like at the baker's. If I get the rolls I like, then I don't go to the next bakery. 

“I have running costs there that I can calculate. It's a good product. We speak the same language, so you can talk to each other as equals. The Audi is a rock-solid car - and that's why we're going on.”

However, that doesn’t necessarily mean Attempto will continue to compete in the DTM next year, with costs a major factor in determining its programme for 2024.

Competing in the DTM is a lot more expensive than other categories running on the same ruleset, with a budget of a million euros required to run a single car.

"It's not done, but that complicates the whole thing,” said Aka.

Patric Niederhauser, Attempto Racing Audi R8 LMS GT3

Patric Niederhauser, Attempto Racing Audi R8 LMS GT3

Photo by: Andreas Beil

Attempto currently runs factory drivers Patric Niederhauser and Mattia Drudi in the DTM, but Audi’s works roster will be disbanded at the end of the year as part of the changes, meaning teams will have to source their own drivers.

"I'm a bit sad for the factory drivers who, with a few exceptions, won't have a contract next year if it stays that way," said Aka.

"We will now reorient ourselves, promote young talents and use a silver or, if necessary, a pro line-up.”

Aka, however, has not yet given up hope that the new Audi boss Gernot Dollner, who will replace Markus Duesmann from September 2023, "will reconsider the direction” regarding its customer racing division.

Audi’s third DTM team Engstler is not heavily impacted by the decision, as its single car entry is funded by sponsor Liqui Moly, with no backing from the German manufacturer.

Team owner Franz Engstler also races his son Luca in the championship, rather than relying on a driver from Audi’s pool.

Asked about Audi’s decision to pull out from factory GT3 racing, Franz Engstler told Motorsport-Total.com: "It's a shame that they're retiring, but that's a management decision and you have to accept that.

“We don't take that personally, because it's a strategic decision of a company." 

Luca Engstler, Engstler Motorsport Audi R8 LMS GT3

Luca Engstler, Engstler Motorsport Audi R8 LMS GT3

Photo by: Andreas Beil

However, Engstler is yet to decide if it will continue with Audi in the 2024 racing season.

"We first have to see how my main partner Liqui Moly sees it," said Engstler. 

“If you change the racing series or the manufacturer, that always involves an incredible marketing dilemma for them, too.

"I'm not one to do anything stupid out of panic. This is a decision we make together. We've never decided this on our own - that's why we've had such a good working relationship for many years.”

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