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The Glory Years of DTM Part 4: 1993 – 2000

Submitted by on January 9, 2018

By Marcel Hundscheid/Speed-O-Graphica.com

In this fourth and final part of our DTM retrospective, we wrap up our look back at the first 25 glorious years of the mighty championship.

Alfa Romeo entered DTM in 1993 and from the very start the Italian manufacturer outclassed Mercedes with their stunning Alfa Romeo 155. The German manufacturer justified their bad performance by claiming that the Mercedes 190 was obsolete and a temporary solution. When they debuted the C Class in 1994, a true arms race between the three brands started.

With a huge budget, Mercedes managed to outclass Alfa Romeo and high tech developments marked the championship. Due to exploding budgets, private teams were forced to leave the championship and, as a result, from 1995 the DTM became a true works series. As both Alfa Romeo and Opel had lots of difficulties applying the high tech developments, Mercedes developed an advantage and claimed the 1994 championship with Klaus Ludwig and, in 1995, Bernd Schneider.

The ever-rising costs were problem, however, and pushed organisers to change the format.

The ITC (International Touring Car Championship) was established in 1995. The championship counted 12 events – seven DTM races in Germany and five international ITC races in Mugello, Helsinki, Donington, Estoril and Magny-Cours. Both championships used the same cars and drivers, however points were awarded separately within the two championships. Bernd Schneider claimed both championships at the end of 1995. In 1996 there was only a single ITC-championship featuring six races in Germany.

The ITC championship was meant for Class 1 Touring Cars and featured Alfa Romeo, Mercedes-Benz and Opel, who where mostly equally matched. Opel entered the championship with three teams, Alfa fought for the championship with six teams. Last but not least, Mercedes fought for the DTM crown with four teams. German Manuel Reuter claimed the 1996 ITC title with three victories and six podium finishes.

Due to poor media exposure and television coverage, the lack of spectators visiting the tracks and huge investments by the teams, Alfa Romeo and Opel announced in September 1997 that they would leave the series. As Mercedes-Benz remained as the sole competitor, the ITC series was then cancelled. Fans had to be patient until 2000, when the championship was resurrected as the DTM.

After the short-lived ITC story manufacturers like Opel and Alfa Romeo continued racing with Class 2 touring cars. Mercedes decided to participate in the FIA GT World Championship. In Germany, the STW (German Supertouring Championship) was established in 1994 – at a time when both Audi and BMW decided to leave the DTM. The STW had to replace the DTM, but as the cars were very close to production cars and therefore unspectacular and there were no fans to support it. When the STW was cancelled in 2000 the DTM revived as German Touring Car series.

In 2000 the DTM celebrated a comeback, featuring much cheaper touring cars dominated by stars like Bernd Schneider, Manuel Reuter and Klaus Ludwig. Schneider claimed the title. The reincarnation of the DTM meant the end of the STW championship. Audi didn’t enter the championship as a factory brand, but was still represented by Abt Sportsline using the compact TT-R. As a result of the DTM’s successful comeback, Abt Sportsline, Mercedes-Benz and Opel continued their commitment in 2001.

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

The Glory Years of DTM Part 2: 1985 – 1990

The Glory Years of DTM Part 3: 1990 – 1993

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