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BMW  Mean machine: BMW reveals its M3 coupe DTM racer concept ahead of its return to the race series in 2012 after an 18-year absence.

Mean machine: BMW reveals its M3 coupe DTM racer concept ahead of its return to the race series in 2012 after an 18-year absence.

BMW M3 back in DTM race series next year as Audi prepares A5 contender

AFTER an 18-year hiatus, BMW will return to the European Deutsche Tourenwagen-Meisterschaft (DTM) race series next year with an M3 Coupe-styled race car.

The Bavarian marque’s comeback means touring car fans will once more be able to enjoy the spectacle of the big three German premium brands in a three-way battle on bitumen.

Hans Werner Aufrecht, co-founder of AMG and chairman of DTM’s umbrella organisation ITR eV said: “I am personally looking forward to again seeing the three premium brands of Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz competing against each other on the race track. Our fans have waited a long time for this.”

Indeed, competition has already started, with BMW’s off-track arch rival Audi announcing its switch from A4 sedan-styled race car to one based on its facelifted A5 coupe – on the same day BMW released pictures and details of its M3 DTM following the car’s debut in concept form at a DTM show event in BMW’s home town of Munich.

Audi released computer renderings of its ‘R17’A5 DTM car but says they “merely suggest” what it will look like. Fans will have to wait until the Frankfurt motor show in September to see the real thing.

BMW center imageAudi R17 DTM racer.

The move from sedan to coupe-styled racers from two of the three competing manufacturers begs the question: Will Mercedes-Benz enter a C-class Coupe next season?

DTM regulations stipulate the use of a 4.0-litre, 90-degree angle petrol V8 and BMW claims its 353kW M3 DTM racer can sprint from 0-100km/h in “about” than three seconds, on the way to a 300km/h top speed.

The 2011 Mercedes-Benz C-class is more powerful at 368kW and both Benz and BMW trump Audi’s 340kW effort, which the company says is being carried over from the existing A4 DTM “nearly unchanged”.

New rules for the 2012 DTM season force all competitors to use certain standard components, reducing costs for entrants and making the cars more closely matched.

All cars in the 2012 season must be built around a new carbon-fibre monocoque featuring six energy-absorbing crash structures and a steel roll-cage to protect drivers from the force of impacts and reduce the likelihood of fuel tank rupture – because the tank is integrated into the monocoque.

Audi Sport head of technology Martin Mühlmeier explained: "Up to now, a bearable side force of 80kN at a specified point has been required, whereas for the 2012-specification vehicles 360kN across the whole length of the sidewall is now required.

“This means that the monocoque has not only been reinforced at a certain point but across the entire length."

Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz cooperated with DTM to develop and agree on the new regulations. Mr Aufrecht said he has “the greatest respect” for the three competing manufacturers, who have “put their own interests aside in favour of this cause”.

DTM racing has not always been about the big German luxury brands. Over the years several manufacturers have competed, including Opel, Ford, Rover and Volvo.


BMW  Mean machine: BMW reveals its M3 coupe DTM racer concept ahead of its return to the race series in 2012 after an 18-year absence.





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