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Abt sticks with Audi for DTM despite Lamborghini Nurburgring programme

Leading DTM squad Abt will remain with Audi in the GT3 championship this year, despite announcing a deal to run Lamborghinis at the Nurburgring 24 Hours.

Rene Rast, Team ABT Sportsline Audi R8 LMS GT3

The Abt Sportsline team won five titles in the DTM with Audi between 2002 and 2009, and has been a mainstay of the series following its transition from silhouette touring cars to GT3 machines.

It ran Audi factory drivers Kelvin van der Linde and Rene Rast to third in 2021 and 2022 respectively, with both keeping their title hopes alive to the final race.

Despite uncertainty over the future of Audi's customer sport programme following its decision to can a planned move into LMDh and focus attentions on Formula 1 from 2026, Abt has committed to sticking with the Audi R8 LMS Evo II for the DTM's first season under the management of the ADAC following its sale by Gerhard Berger's ITR operation.

Today's announcement that the team will field a Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo2 at the 24 hours and in select rounds of the Nordschleife-based Nurburgring Endurance Series (NLS) is understood to have no ramifications on its DTM programme, with the Italian brand also owned by the VW Group.

Abt previously ran as a works Bentley squad at the Nurburgring in 2016 and 2017 alongside its Audi DTM programme, managing a best finish of seventh in 2016.

Abt team principal Thomas Biermaier told Autosport's sister title Motorsport-Total that as early as the 2022 DTM finale at Hockenheim in October it was "actually agreed with Audi that we would continue with them".

Thomas Biermaier, CEO Abt Sportline, Ricardo Feller, Team ABT Sportsline

Thomas Biermaier, CEO Abt Sportline, Ricardo Feller, Team ABT Sportsline

Photo by: Alexander Trienitz

"When there was a question mark at Audi as to how things were going there in general, we naturally had to look around," Biermaier explained.

Leading Audi squad WRT elected to switch to BMW for 2023, with boss Vincent Vosse critical of now-former Audi Sport boss Julius Seebach for the negative impact his tenure had on the German manufacturer's motorsport programmes.

However, after seeking clarity from Audi - with Rolf Michl appointed as Seebach's replacement in September - Biermaier said that Abt had put in a tender to be a supported team for 2023.

"We took part because it was actually clear to us that we would stay with Audi," he said.

"In the DTM, Abt and Audi simply belong together - for over 20 years."

Abt has sold one of its GT3 Audis to the Engstler team which plans to step up from the TCR arena, and is likely to line up with a reduced two-car entry although its driver lineup has yet to be confirmed.

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The 2023 DTM season gets underway at Oschersleben on 26-28 May, a move Biermaier welcomes after the period of limbo during the autumn as teams awaited news that the series' future would be secured by the ADAC - which was only confirmed in December.

"I'm glad the season starts late," added Biermaier.

"And that this gives us time to concentrate on other things at the moment.

"We're putting all the resources that are currently available to us into Formula E, we have to catch up a bit there."

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