ABT Sportsline is tackling the 2023 DTM season with two highly motivated drivers: the two ABT Audi R8 LMS GT3 evo II cars will be driven by Kelvin van der Linde (South Africa) and Ricardo Feller (Switzerland), who were already teammates at ABT Sportsline in the DTM last year. Despite their young age, both are “old hands” when it comes to GT3 racing and the Audi R8 LMS.
The DTM is Germany’s most popular racing series, with a history dating back to 1984. ABT Sportsline has been involved since 2000 and is the most successful active DTM team. This season, the team from Kempten is fielding two ABT Audi R8 LMS GT3 evo II cars for Ricardo Feller and Kelvin van der Linde.
Since 2021, the DTM has been contested with the globally popular GT3 racing cars. The DNA of the series has remained unchanged: It offers absolute premium racing with top teams and professional drivers in 16 sprint races lasting about an hour. All races are broadcast live on free TV on ProSieben.
In 2023, Europe’s largest automobile club will be the organiser of the DTM for the first time. The ADAC is focusing on proximity to the fans and the core market of Germany. Six of the eight races will be held in Germany, two more in neighbouring countries. At the same time, ticket prices have been reduced. In two price categories, children and young people under the age of 16 are admitted free of charge when accompanied by an adult.
The topic of sustainability is also close to the ADAC’s heart – just like ABT Sportsline. In the 2023 season, a fuel will be used in the DTM for the first time that consists of 50 per cent sustainable components and reduces CO2 emissions by at least 20 per cent, according to the manufacturer. In addition, the entire paddock is a “bottle-free zone”. Water dispensers make the use of plastic bottles superfluous.
On the racetrack, fans will experience some of the most fascinating sports cars in the world. In the 2023 season, six brands – AMG-Mercedes, Audi, BMW, Ferrari, Lamborghini and Porsche – will be on the grid. A so-called “Balance of Performance” (BoP) ensures equal opportunities for the different concepts and pure excitement.
As the new motorsport director, Martin Tomczyk is strengthening the DTM team around Hans-Jürgen Abt and Thomas Biermaier this year. For Tomczyk, it is a case of “coming home”: As a 19-year-old, he began his successful DTM career with ABT Sportsline in 2001, rising from being a junior to becoming an Audi factory driver in the process. Tomczyk competed for ABT Sportsline in the DTM for ten years. He celebrated four of his seven victories in the most important German racing series with race cars from ABT Sportsline.
Ricardo Feller won the ADAC GT Masters as a 21-year-old with the Audi R8 LMS in 2021 and stood on the top step of the podium for the first time in his first DTM season in 2022 after just three race weekends. “I hope we can build on the success we had at the beginning of last year,” says Feller. “In any case, I’m really looking forward to starting my second DTM season with Scherer Sport and ABT Sportsline. I’m ready for the new challenge and believe we’re very well positioned – also with my teammate Kelvin.”
Kelvin van der Linde is already entering his tenth season with the Audi brand’s successful GT3 race car. With the R8, the South African has twice won the ADAC GT Masters and the 24-hour race at the Nürburgring two times. In 2021, Kelvin van der Linde narrowly missed the title in his first year in DTM. “I am extremely looking forward to my third season with ABT in the DTM and working with Ricardo as a teammate,” says van der Linde. “At the end of last season, we showed our potential. I believe that with the new crew around me we can really attack this year and look forward to good results.”
DTM race calendar 2023
26/05 – 28/05 Oschersleben (GER)
23/06 – 25/06 Zandvoort (NL)
07/07 – 09/07 Norisring (GER)
04/08 – 06/08 Nürburgring (GER)
18/08 – 20/08 Lausitzring (GER)
08/09 – 10/09 Sachsenring (GER)
22/09 – 24/09 Red Bull Ring (A)
20/10 – 22/10 Hockenheimring (GER)
ABT Sportsline entered the challenge of the DTM as a private team. The Abt-Audi TT-R, which was developed in Kempten in record time, did not stand a chance against the factory competitors from Opel and Mercedes-Benz in the first year, but quickly became a fan favourite.
A sensational performance: after the first race wins in the 2001 season, Laurent Aiello and Team ABT Sportsline took home the DTM title in the third year. The French driver even clinched the deal with one race to spare before the season finale, ensuring a roaring party night in the Dutch holiday town of Zandvoort.
After four “privateer” years, Audi officially entered the DTM in 2004 and ABT Sportsline became a factory team. The team managed a brilliant comeback: Mattias Ekström was crowned as the champion, while his Audi Sport Team ABT Sportsline outfit took home the teams’ title and Audi won the manufacturers’ championship.
He did it again: Mattias Ekström won his second title. The fans were treated to a thrilling season: At the season finale in Hockenheim, three drivers still had an opportunity to win the title, including team mate Martin Tomczyk. Ekström only needed a third place in the race to become the champion again.
The 2008 season was dominated by ABT driver Timo Scheider: The German driver, who now lives in Austria, won his first-ever DTM race at Oschersleben and took home the title at the end of the season. Scheider was on the podium in eight of the eleven races and won the title in grand style at the season finale – with another race win.
With the third consecutive title, Audi and ABT Sportsline made motorsports history: No other manufacturer before had managed this hat-trick. Once again it was Timo Scheider who defeated Mercedes star Gary Paffett during a thrilling showdown at Hockenheim.
While longstanding ABT driver Martin Tomczyk won the drivers’ title, ABT Sportsline celebrated winning the teams’ championship: With four wins and three more trophies, Mattias Ekström and Mike Rockenfeller added another chapter to the success story.
Two years without a DTM victory drove ABT Sportsline to new heights: After the first four races, Mattias Ekström had firmly established himself in the top three, and with wins at Zandvoort and in the season finale at Hockenheim, he cemented second place in the drivers’ and team’s championship standings.
Audi Sport Team ABT Sportsline became the teams’ champions of the DTM. After 2004, 2007 and 2011, Audi Sport Team ABT Sportsline won the team’s title for the fourth time with Edoardo Mortara, Mattias Ekström and Mike Rockenfeller, who stood in for the new rallycross world champion Ekström at the season finale. Despite five wins in this year, Mortara narrowly missed the drivers’ title by only four points.
With second place in the final standings, Audi Sports Team ABT Sportsline only narrowly failed to defend the title in the DTM teams’ championship. Mattias Ekström finished second overall in the drivers’ standings, having had to concede the title by only three points in his last DTM season.
After a real thriller of a season, in which Nico Müller was leading for a long time, he kept his chances of winning the title alive until the finale, where he finally became the runner-up. At the same time, Robin Frijns’ equally tremendous performance secured him third place. At last, Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline was able to win the teams’ championship with a 158-point advance.
For the first time since 2003, ABT Sportsline competed in the DTM as a private team. Kelvin van der Linde won at the Monza season opener with the Audi R8 LMS, scoring the first of a total of four wins for ABT Sportsline. The South African fought for the title until the last race and ended the season third overall. ABT Sportsline finished runner-up in the teams’ standings.
In its second DTM year with GT3 racing cars, ABT Sportsline remains in the title race right to the end. In the end, René Rast in the ABT Audi R8 LMS GT3 evo II takes third place in the overall standings.