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Will Abt continue with Audi in DTM next year?

Abt Sportsline is still weighing up whether to continue with Audi in the DTM next year following the German manufacturer’s decision to heavily scale down its GT3 programme.

Ricardo Feller, Team ABT Sportsline Audi R8 LMS GT3

Abt has been associated with Audi in the DTM ever since the series was revived in 2000 and has won five titles with the revered marque during this period.

However, Audi’s decision to exit GT3 racing as a factory and reduce its involvement to basic technical support has forced the squad to consider its options for next year.

A decision to enter the Lamborghini Huracan GT3 in the Nurburgring 24 Hours this year, which was made before Audi’s GT3 withdrawal announcement, had indicated that Abt could extend the collaboration with the Italian manufacturer to the DTM next year.

Indeed, many in the paddock had suggested that Abt was already on the way to switch to Lamborghini for the DTM’s second season under the ownership of the ADAC.

However, Autosport understands that it is now looking more likely that Abt will continue its relationship with Audi for another year - even as their long-term future looks uncertain.

Abt has set an internal deadline of the Hockenheim finale, which takes place on October 21-22, to decide whether to remain with Audi or jump ship to Lamborghini for the 2024 DTM season.

"The nice thing is that both are brands from the [Volkswagen] Group and we somehow belong to this Group, that's important for us," Abt Sports Director Thomas Biermaier told Autosport's sister title Motorsport-Total.com. 

"We have a long tradition with Audi. You don't just throw that away. So we'll weigh things up well there."

Abt is holding active discussions with both Audi and Lamborghini regarding 2024. Its car tuning business covers both brands, having recently started selling a tuned version of Lamborghini’s best-seller, Urus. 

"There are different issues, but that doesn't just relate to the car but to the overall constellation, including at Abt Sportsline," said Biermaier. 

"Certainly, people are thinking about what will happen in the medium term, but in the short term it doesn't have much influence. Issues such as tradition, performance, support and other factors play a role.

Audi Sport boss Rolf Michl and customer racing chief Chris Reinke both worked with Abt in the past, so there is a shared history between the two companies.

Abt director Martin Tomczyk praised Audi for how it has been communicating with his team, saying: “You have to say that the discussions are very open and very clear and direct. Of course, that has to do with our years of collaboration. That helps in situations like this."

#27 ABT Sportsline Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EVO2: Kelvin Van der Linde, Marco Mapelli, Jordan Pepper, Nicki Thiim

#27 ABT Sportsline Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EVO2: Kelvin Van der Linde, Marco Mapelli, Jordan Pepper, Nicki Thiim

Photo by: Alexander Trienitz

Another factor that could prevent Abt from switching to Lamborghini is the Italian manufacturer’s existing roster of teams. Notably, SSR Performance has already positioned itself as a top outfit in DTM following its switch from Porsche last year, and its favourable financial position and professional approach has allowed it to establish a strong footing at Sant'Agata.

This means that Abt has to evaluate whether it makes sense to switch to Huracan, especially with the R8 LMS being a proven car.

Abt also has one of the best marketing bosses in Harry Unflath, which means it can somewhat compensate for a lack of financial support from Audi.

Audi’s decision to disband its driver pool, too, will have no effect on Abt. That’s because Kelvin van der Linde, who left Audi on his own terms at the beginning of 2023, is directly contracted by Abt, while current factory driver Ricardo Feller’s deal with the team came via sponsor Scherer.

Since Abt has a contract with Scherer with regards to Feller, a future collaboration without Audi’s involvement would also be possible in 2024.

“We are also in discussions with the drivers and are very happy with both drivers,” said Biermaier. "We're currently setting up our team and are very confident that we'll get everything wrapped up before Hockenheim."

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