DTM should adopt GTE cars in 2021 before transitioning to a new formula featuring "roaring engines and interesting silhouettes", reckons former race-winner Altfrid Heger.
Audi announced its exit from the DTM at the end of 2020 this week, leaving BMW as the only remaining manufacturer and plunging the future of the series into doubt.
With concerns the category might struggle to survive in its present form with only BMW as a full works outfit, debate has centred around what regulations could be used from next year onwards to breathe new life into its immediate future.
One option that has been mooted is a switch to GTE cars raced in the FIA World Endurance Championship and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, something DTM had previously considered a 'Plan B' while negotiating a shared platform with Super GT.
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Although no longer involved in the WEC, BMW still runs its M8 GTE in IMSA, while Porsche, Ferrari, Corvette and Aston Martin also have cars built to the technical rules.
Heger, who raced in the previous iteration of DTM between 1988 and '92 claiming two wins in that period, believes the championship can ensure its short-term survival by allowing GTE cars to race alongside its existing Class One machines.
"Audi's withdrawal is not a knockout for the DTM," Heger told Autosport. "This is a chance for a promising new beginning. It is still possible to change the technical and sporting regulations in a forward-looking way.
"Cars like a Porsche  RSR, a Chevrolet Corvette, an Aston Martin or a Ferrari would certainly be the right transition for the DTM. These GT cars are currently the icing on the cake in the WEC. And they are within easy reach.
"That's why I would see these cars as customer cars in the DTM at the moment, perhaps in conjunction with the Class One cars. They might even run together for a year or two."
Germany's biggest national series adopting sportscar regulations connects it to DTM's spiritual predecessor, the Deutsche Rennsport Meisterschaft (DRM) which ran with both Group 5 and Group C cars across its history.
Heger believes GTE cars should only serve as a temporary solution for DTM's current quandary, and that the series must devise an all-new formula that is cost effective and not heavily dependent on manufacturers.
"A completely new concept for the DTM must be developed," he said. "I don't think [electric cars] interest our motorsport fans, who have been attending the VLN, [ADAC] GT Masters and DTM races for years.
"In my opinion, the concept for the ITR must be roaring engines, interesting silhouettes, and also offer private or professional teams the opportunity to participate.
"Our problem is that it will be difficult in the future to pursue motorsports with manufacturer dependence, of course, also because of the political situation, but also from the manufacturer's side.
"And that's where the ADAC with the GT Masters has a big advantage over the current DTM. Although it has cars that are built by manufacturers, the series is not manufacturer-dependent."
Two-time Le Mans 24 Hours winner Hans-Joachim Stuck had advised DTM to use GT3 cars before the news of Audi's withdrawal from the category, and revealed that ITR chief Gerhard Berger had softened his opposition to the idea.
But Heger believes DTM must differentiate itself from the ADAC GT Masters series which also features sprint races using GT3 cars.
"I don't think so," he said when asked if DTM should adopt GT3 cars. "If the ADAC championship is using GT3s, then DTM would have to go a different way to really stand out."