High-tech Puzzle

The most powerful DTM Audi of all time is made up of some 4,500 components. How the 2009-spec Audi RS 5 DTM was developed, engineered and built is explained in this step-by-step account of the creation process of the successful new turbo touring car from the brand with the four rings.

08/07/2019 Reading Time: 5 min

Cut-away view of the Audi RS 5 DTM
Portrait of Andreas Roos


December 2014: DTM Project Leader Andreas Roos and his fellow engineers at Audi Sport take the first step towards the new Audi RS 5 DTM, which marks Audi’s biggest and most important touring car project in recent history. Shortly before the project’s launch, the course has been set in terms of crucial elements of a joint future of the DTM and the Japanese Super GT racing series according to the Class 1 regulations. The initial and key element of the mission: a new two-litre four-cylinder internal combustion engine with an exhaust gas turbocharger for racing, starting in the 2017 DTM season that was envisaged at that time. 

Ulrich Baretzky with the Audi DTM engine

Since 2008, Ulrich Baretzky, Head of Engine Technology at Audi Sport for more than 30 years, and his team have been pursuing the project of a successor to the four-litre V8 power-plant that has been used in the DTM since 2000. After the DTM decided to introduce new turbo engines at the beginning of the 2019 season, Audi, in January 2017, launches the final development stage for the future racing version of its RS 5 Coupé*, which the brand with the four rings has relied on in the DTM since 2013. Internally the project is named ‘RC8’. Initially, the main focus at Audi Sport continues to be on the engine. “For the total vehicle, we started initial concept studies in the middle of 2017,” relates Andreas Roos.


Audi RS 5 Coupé: Fuel consumption, combined*: 8.7 l/100kmCO₂ emissions, combined*: 199 g/km

Audi RS 5 Coupé: Fuel consumption, combined*: 8.7 l/100kmCO₂ emissions, combined*: 199 g/km

Glowing exhaust of the engine

Engineering design and dyno testing

Two litres of displacement, four cylinders, a compact in-line configuration, petrol direct injection analogous to the TFSI concept from the production vehicles, turbocharging using an exhaust gas turbocharger: at Audi, this is the technical foundation of its new high-tech engine for the DTM. More engine output combined with reduced engine weight and lower specific fuel consumption intended to make international touring car racing more attractive, whilst strengthening the reference to production vehicles with high-efficiency two-litre turbo engines worldwide: this puts the racing and business philosophy in a nutshell.

Engineers at the dyno

January 2017: Testing of the so-called full engine of the new design, which had begun in March 2015, continues on Audi Sport’s dynos. Before the full engine, research was done on a one-cylinder version of the new DTM four-cylinder unit. The tests with the one-cylinder engine were focused on the combustion process.   

Spring 2017: Audi Sport tests its new DTM four-cylinder turbo unit on the dyno, including the cooling system. To the extent possible, everything is configured exactly the way it will subsequently be positioned under the bonnet of the Audi RS 5 DTM. This means: the engine including the water and oil circuit, the exhaust system together with the turbocharger plus the intercooler system and the wastegate. The complete package of the new DTM racing engine consists of some 2,000 single parts.

The final rig testing stage for the new engine starts in the summer of 2017: the interaction between the turbo four-cylinder unit and the proven sequential six-speed gearbox is brought into perfect harmony. Audi Sport uses an axle test rig for this purpose on which the entire propulsion system is ‘driven’ with absolute realism and made ready for racing.

Following a total of about two years of development work, the forward-thinking result is obtained: Audi’s new two-litre four-cylinder turbo engine for the DTM with its more than 610 horsepower (450 kW) delivers some 100 horsepower more than the four-litre V8 did with twice as many cylinders and twice the cubic capacity, and with 650 Nm it develops nearly 25 per cent more torque. The new design only weighs 85 kilogrammes, about half as much as its predecessor.

Plus, Audi has taken another significant step forward: “The DTM engine has extremely low specific consumption, which is now in ranges that used to be typical of diesel units. In terms of weight and lightweight design – especially under the aspect of avoiding CO2 emissions – we’re pointing out a few approaches that in future will hopefully also find their way into road cars – as in the case of the first TFSI for Le Mans and TDI,” emphasises chief engine developer Ulrich Baretzky.


Audi RS 5 DTM in the garage

Test car assembly

September 2018: All of the modifications required for the turbo engine and adjustments to the Class 1 regulations have been implemented in detail. The first 2019-gen Audi RS 5 DTM starts being assembled. The key differences between it and the 2018-spec car: the entire front end has been modified to suit the more compact four-cylinder turbo power-plant and its higher cooling requirements. Particularly conspicuous are the additional air intakes at the front for the intercooler, which make the Audi RS 5 DTM appear even more aggressive than its predecessor.

Audi RS 5 DTM in the garage

The car’s aerodynamics design has also been completely updated by the autumn of 2018. According to the Class 1 regulations, the underfloor, the front and rear diffusors and the rear wing, whose width has increased by an impressive 52 centimetres, have been redefined for the 2019-spec DTM Audi. These modified components are also specification parts, just like the monocoque, safety cage, catalytic converter, powertrain, gearbox, brakes, suspensions, rims, wheels and fuel tank. In that way, the DTM consistently continues to pursue its path towards further cost reduction and increased competitiveness.



Audi Sport employees and the Audi RS 5 DTM

“Accommodating the heavily modified cooling system in the engine bay posed a challenge in particular. Because of this, we allowed for about one more week than usual to assemble the first car,” says Roos. The project leader explains more precisely: “For example, due to the higher exhaust gas temperatures, we had to pay special attention to proper thermal shielding at every exposed area around the exhaust system.” In early October 2018, after five weeks of assembly work, Audi Sport is able to start its new turbo engine for the first time in the modified Audi RS 5 DTM. The audience for what is now the most powerful DTM Audi of all time is exclusively located at the motorsport headquarters in Neuburg an der Donau: the employees of Audi Sport.

Technical data

  Audi RS 5 DTM
Vehicle type Class 1 racecar
Engine Inline four cylinder engine with petrol direct fuel injection (TFSI)
Cubic capacity 2,000 cc
Power More than 610 hp; approx. 30 hp extra with Push-to-Pass system
Torque More than 650 Nm
Type of drive Rear-wheel drive
Transmission Semi-automatic 6-speed transmission with paddle shift
Dimensions 4,958 (incl. rear wing) / 1,950 / 1,150
Length/Width/Height (mm)
Minimum weight 986 kg (without driver)
Fuel cell capacity 120 l
0–100 km/h Approx. 2.8 seconds
Top speed Approx. 300 km/h

Test 1

16 October 2018: The first 2019-spec Audi RS 5 DTM is doing its maiden laps. At the wheel of the test car: Audi factory driver Mike Rockenfeller, the 2013 DTM Champion. “That was primarily a functional test to find out about any bugs that cannot be identified on the test rig,” explains Andreas Roos. Specifically, in addition to higher engine temperatures, the Audi Sport developers observe the heavier vibrations that any turbo engine naturally produces. In mid-November and early December 2018, two more trials of the test car – each lasting for several days – follow on the circuits of Estoril (Portugal) and Jerez (Spain).


Racing car assembly

February/March 2019: Eight racing cars for the 2019 DTM season are assembled at Audi Sport in Neuburg an der Donau. This means that within the space of three to four weeks, 120 component assemblies per vehicle are joined together by hand with utmost precision to create the most advanced high-tech touring cars. Included in this build stage besides the Audi technical staff – as for any new DTM model range – are the engineers and mechanics of the three proven German fielding teams: Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline, Audi Sport Team Phoenix and Audi Sport Team Rosberg. New to this well-gelled circle is WRT Team Audi Sport from Belgium. As the new customer team, the successful endurance racing experts are making their DTM debut with two new Audi RS 5 DTM cars in 2019.

Audi RS 5 DTM in the garage

Test 2

15 to 18 April 2018: During the week before Easter, all eight 2019-spec Audi RS 5 DTM racing cars plus the test car jointly hit the track at the Lausitzring for the first time. This DTM test is the ‘dress rehearsal’ for all of the participants of the racing series’ 33rd season. Every Audi driver takes part in the test with his brand new race car: Robin Frijns and Nico Müller (Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline), Loïc Duval and Mike Rockenfeller (Audi Sport Team Phoenix), Jamie Green and René Rast (Audi Sport Team Rosberg) as well as Jonathan Aberdein and Pietro Fittipaldi (WRT Team Audi Sport).

Audi RS 5 DTM on the racetrack

After the four-day test, 1,883 laps in total and more than 8,500 kilometres, five of the new Audi RS 5 DTM cars sit in the top five spots on the time sheets. “That together with our teams, Abt Sportsline, Phoenix, Rosberg and WRT, we managed to get all of the cars ready to run in the test was a huge effort and great achievement by the whole squad,” says Andreas Roos in summing up the test days.


Audi RS 5 DTM on the racetrack

First racing season

4/5 May 2019: The new turbo era kicks off at Hockenheim with two races and resounding success for the 2019-spec Audi RS 5 DTM. Five of six possible podium places go to Audi drivers: on Saturday, Mike Rockenfeller and Robin Frijns finish in second and third place. On Sunday, a commanding one-two-three success is achieved with René Rast as the winner, Nico Müller as the runner-up and Robin Frijns, again, in third position. In the pit lane, Bram Schot, Chairman of the Management Board of AUDI AG, is also delighted about the tremendously successful premiere.

After each of the nine DTM race weekends, the Audi RS 5 DTM cars return to the workshops of the respective teams, where they’re dismantled. All of the components are thoroughly examined according to Audi Sport’s inspection schedule and instructions, replacing parts if necessary. For the engine, clutch, front splitter and brake discs, the DTM regulations prescribe the maximum number of parts that may be replaced during the course of a racing season. Within the space of eight days, each of the eight high-tech puzzles called Audi RS 5 DTM is back on its wheels – ready for the next chase for points, trophies and titles.

René Rast with steering wheel

Going forward

For 2020, the DTM’s umbrella organisation ITR is not planning any modifications to the current cars. The development level is frozen with the current homologation, so that no further development is allowed. “Due to the very restrictive regulations, optimisations are only possible to a small extent,” says Project Leader Roos. No matter what: Audi Sport will again put all of its Audi RS 5 DTM cars on the grid in top shape next season.


Two-litre four-cylinder turbo engine
Audi RS 5 DTM on the racetrack
Audi turbo engine on the dyno


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