The season opener at the Hockenheimring will be the moment of truth: after a short and extremely busy preparation period, R-Motorsport are about to make their series debut with the Aston Martin Vantage DTM.
With the start of the 2019 DTM campaign only days away, the intensive preparations by R Motorsport and their Vynamic joint venture partner HWA are entering a crucial phase, namely direct comparison with a well-entrenched opposition accustomed to success. When the gantry lights at the Hockenheimring go out, it will become apparent just how effective the R-Motorsport preparations have been in the extremely short time from the project planning and development stages through to race readiness. Getting four Aston Martin Vantage DTM cars raceworthy in time for the Hockenheim curtain-raiser had sometimes seemed overly ambitious, even to the born optimists in the team. In this regard at least, R-Motorsport team can already claim a DTM record.
Premiere under the bonnet: Turbo engines with Push-to-pass
The new technical regulations pose a challenge for all manufacturers and teams this year, and the test days at Jerez, Estoril and at the Lausitzring made clear to the R-Motorsport technical team the complexity of the work involved in the development of the DTM car, especially its new four-cylinder turbo engine. The turbo unit has two litres of displacement and delivers more than 600 horsepower plus 650 Nm of torque. At the same time, the permissible kerb weight of the vehicle has been reduced from 1,115 kg minimum to 986 kg.
For the forthcoming season, two measures have been introduced to facilitate overtaking during the races: in addition to the already familiar Drag Reduction System (DRS), there is now a push-to-pass mode which drivers are permitted to deploy up to twelve times per race. This allows the driver to boost the performance of his car by approximately 30 horsepower for the duration of around five seconds. The push-to-pass button can be activated when the gap to the car ahead is no more than three seconds. During the last five laps or seven minutes of racing, the system may also be used irrespective of the distance to the vehicle in front. The same innovation also applies on the last five laps of the race for the DRS, which (except for the race leader) may be used freely up to a limit of twelve activations.
Premiere for the aerodynamics of the new DTM era
From the aerodynamic point of view, there are also changes affecting all parts of the car, from the front end to the rear wing. The cooling requirement of the new turbo engines calls for a larger radiator grille at the front. At the same time, the cooling outlets in the bonnet are significantly larger than on the previous year’s models. While the overhang of the front spoiler has been reduced by 90 millimetres, the rear wing is 520 millimetres wider than before. However, it now consists of only one element. In conjunction with the shallower rear diffuser to be used from this year onwards, this reduces the aerodynamic downforce.
Another innovation concerns driver visibility in the cockpit. Starting this season, there are no interior mirrors in the DTM cars. These are replaced by a rear-view camera which displays an image on a screen located in the same place where the rear mirror used to be. The change was necessitated by the introduction of a fire protection bulkhead between the gearbox and the cockpit, which would have blocked the view for the interior mirror. Furthermore, with the elimination of launch control, the drivers must now adjust to a new start-up procedure, in which they can no longer rely on electronic aids as before. Instead, it will be the individual driver’s ability and speed of reaction that count.
Premiere in the paddock: R-Motorsport’s new Hospitality
Away from the track itself, R-Motorsport have another premiere in store – the first outing for the team’s exclusive hospitality suite where it will receive its guests. In line with the corporate philosophy summed up in the slogan ‘Emotion, Passion, Vision’, the new facility will offer VIP visitors hospitality of the highest order provided by R-Experience. The catering will be taken care of by a chefs and kitchen staff who have been awarded stars for their culinary skills. The elegant new architect-designed structure in the paddock can host up to 70 guests. In addition, there is a gallery level with 35 seats where the needs of team members will be met. Representatives of the media are invited to get a first-hand impression of the new exclusive premises on Friday (17:30 – 18:30).
The new DTM season starts on Friday, 3rd May with first practice at 1:10 pm (ran.de will feature all practice and qualifying sessions as livestream). The first two races of the year will get under way at 1.30 pm on Saturday and Sunday (live on SAT.1 from 1.00 pm onwards).
Comments ahead of the season opener at Hockenheim
Jake Dennis: “During the tests at Jerez, Estoril and most recently at the Lausitzring with our Aston Martin Vantage DTM, I learnt a lot about the handling of a DTM car. Compared to a GT3, it has been a new challenge for me as a rookie to go to the limit in a DTM car with its superior downforce and much better power-to-weight ratio. I’ve enjoyed that right from the start, and I’m really looking forward to my first race.”
Paul Di Resta: “There are several months of hard work behind us in the development of the Aston Martin Vantage DTM to race maturity. Thanks to the team for the efforts over the past few weeks, especially with the all the weekend and late night shifts. I now hope that, with the experience I bring from the past nine years in the DTM and with my efforts so far this year, I have been able to make a decisive contribution to us having a good and problem-free start to the season. It would be great for everyone in the team who has worked so hard if we were able to get a respectable result in the season opener.”
Daniel Juncadella: “I’m really looking forward to the season opener and what it means for our new DTM project. Although I already have five years of DTM experience, there are some new challenges posed by the change in regulations, most notably tyre management with the more powerful turbocharged engines and the start-up procedure due to the elimination of launch control. We have obviously practised this during the tests, but it will only be at Hockenheim that we see where we stand after the shorter preparation time compared to the opposition.”
Ferdinand von Habsburg: “With me being the youngest and least experienced member of the squad, I have the biggest learning process ahead of me. Nonetheless, I’m aiming to acquire enough experience in the shortest possible time so that I can quickly establish myself in this field of the world’s top touring car drivers and post some respectable results. I am really looking forward to lining up on the grid for the first race in the Aston Martin Vantage DTM, and I am honoured by the confidence that R-Motorsport have shown in recruiting me for the DTM.”
Dr. Florian Kamelger, R-Motorsport Team Principal: “It is an amazing achievement for every single person in the team that we are in the starting line-up at Hockenheim. The engineering team led by Hubert Hügle together with the organisational, marketing and communications team have worked extremely hard in the run-up to the season. In being ready to compete at the Hockenheimring in such a short time since we announced our intention to contest the DTM in late October last year, we have all achieved something unique in the history of the series. We can be proud of that. An important prerequisite for this was the founding of Vynamic GmbH which, as a joint venture between AF Racing and HWA, is responsible for the project and manages all the operational aspects. The expertise of both partners has laid the foundation for the rapid advancement of our DTM project. Now we look forward to the first race, although as a small team, we’re not in for an easy ride against the established competition. But surprises are always possible.”