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The Glory Years of DTM Part 3: 1990 – 1993

Submitted by on January 5, 2018

By Marcel Hundscheid / Speed-O-Graphica.com

We pick up our DTM retrospective in 1990, with turbo engines struck from the regulations.

With the ban on turbo power, Ford retired in 1990. They would be replaced by Audi, who entered the championship with the big, but mighty, V8 Quattro.

The 3.6-litre V8 engine was the perfect competitor for the four-cylinder engines used by Mercedes, BMW and Opel. Konrad Schmidt Motorsport prepared the cars for the 1990 season. Hans-Joachim Stuck grabbed a podium at the car’s first appearance in Zolder. Despite some bad luck, Stuck claimed seven victories and gave Audi the DTM title in its first year of use.

This picture was taken at Zolder back in 1990 by the author when Hans-Joachim Stuck scored the first podium finish for the big Audi V8.

In the end Audi dominated the DTM during 1990 and 1991, with Hans-Joachim Stuck claiming the championship in 1990 and Frank Biela following up in 1991. In 1992 weight was increased by DTM’s organiser ITR, knocking Audi out of contention. Their 180 degree crankshaft was in violation of the rules and as both BMW and Mercedes protested, Audi withdrew as a manufacturer from the DTM.

Opel started to develop a race version of the Omega, an unusual move as the Omega was, just like the Audi V8, a rather large family sedan. Opel had no other alternative as a replacement for the small Kadett GSi. Despite the available power produced by the 6-cylinder engine, the Omega was far heavier than the BMW M3 and Mercedes 190E. Opel’s six cylinder produced 30 horsepower more than the M3 and 190E, but its position in the chassis caused the cars to develop understeer. Audi’s V8 may have been 100 kilograms heavier, but it was attached to a sophisticated four-wheel drive system.

Two cars were entered by Opel Team Irmscher in 1990, driven by former Ford-factory driver Klaus Niedzwiedz and Markus Oestreich. As expected, the Omega was not a match for the M3, 190E or Audi V8. During the fourth round of the 1990 championship Opel introduced the Omega 3000 24V. It was quick in qualifying, but race distance was a different story. Last but not least in the top rounds of the championship Niedzwiedz finally scored a top finish but never finished in the top rankings.

Mercedes dominated the DTM in 1992 with the Mercedes-Benz AMG. No less than 16 victories were claimed that year and Klaus Ludwig gave Mercedes its first title. Besides this, 1992 was a remarkable year for Mercedes as Ellen Lohr became the first woman to win a DTM race. It turned out to be a unique victory as Lohr became not only the first but also the last woman who would win a DTM-race. In a reaction after the race she said: it was a tyre decision. Keke Rosberg decided to use a softer compound and Lohr knew that by the end of the race she would have the chance to get the win. She even pushed former Formula One World Champion Keke Rosberg off line shortly before the finish line. Despite fierce opposition from the Finn she secured her first and only DTM victory.

From 1993, Class 1 cars were introduced, with the intention of using carbon fiber chassis instead of metal bodies. 2.5-liter V6 engines were used and would develop up to 500 bhp. Both Alfa Romeo and Opel used all-wheel drive.

Class 1 cars were not very popular with manufacturers. Audi developed a Class 1 Audi 80 but decided not to use the car in the DTM championship. BMW wanted to use a straight 6-cylinder instead of the V6 and BMW decided to leave as well. As a result Opel stopped the development of their Calibra V6 and the DTM saw just two brands.

Shown here above is the Audi A4 that never made the DTM. This prototype was shown at Techno Classica back in 2011.

The Audi 80 Quattro 2.5 DTM was developed using new DTM rules that came into force in 1993. That’s why the car was equipped with a 2.5 liter V6 with 388 hp. Until 1993, the regulations were much less strict and thus very different cars were running against each other. From the four-cylinder BMW M3 to the thick Audi V8. The Audi 80 DTM, however, has never been able to prove itself on the track, because Audi withdrew from the start of the season over dissatisfaction about the regulations.

Opel returned to the championship during the final race in 1993 with their brand new Calibra V6 4×4. Manuel Reuter managed to qualify the car. Former F1-world champion Keke Rosberg scored the first championship points in the second car. However, the first victory was scored in 1994 during a DTM race in Donington by Manuel Reuter.

We’ll pick up in 1994 in a few days with the final part of our DTM retrospective.

The Glory Years of DTM: Part 1: 1984 – 1985

The Glory Years of DTM Part 2: 1985 – 1990

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