Audi DTM squad faces "worst crisis" without racing due to COVID-19

Rachit Thukral, Sven Haidinger
Audi DTM squad faces

The boss of Audi DTM squad Phoenix Racing has described the ongoing coronavirus situation as the "worst crisis" in his team's 20-year history.

The indefinite pause on global motorsport caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the financial health of teams across various motorsport categories, and the DTM is no exception, with the season start delayed until mid-July at the earliest.

Phoenix has been a DTM mainstay since the category's rebirth in 2000 and claimed two drivers titles with Martin Tomczyk and Mike Rockenfeller, but team boss Ernst Moser has warned that it's existence could be threatened if the situation doesn't improve soon.

"This is the worst crisis I've ever experienced with my company," Moser told Autosport.

"For a certain period of time I can bridge that gap, but in the long run it's obviously a killer.

"If it goes on like this for more than a month or two, it's going to be difficult."

While Phoenix is on a stronger financial footing compared to many privateer teams thanks to its long-standing affiliation with Audi, Moser said the delays to the DTM and Nurburgring Endurance Series (formerly VLN) - in which Phoenix fields several customer Audi GT3 cars - would have a negative impact on its budget.

"In the DTM we have a certain basic security through the works contract with Audi, which runs until the end of the year," Moser (below) said.

Audi DTM squad faces

"[But] If we don't have any assignments in the DTM, we won't get the budgets that were normally promised to us in the contract."

Fellow Audi DTM squads Rosberg and Abt Sportsline - which also runs the marque's Formula E programme - also admitted that that their finances have taken a hit because of the pandemic, but not to as great an extent as Phoenix.

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"The worries are definitely there, but the situation is still okay under the circumstances," said Team Rosberg boss Kimmo Liimatainen. "You'll survive the odd month or two."

Abt CEO Thomas Biermaier added: "As a works team, you're in a different situation than the private teams or GT teams that really have to finance themselves with driver income. Nevertheless, the air is also limited in the works teams."

Customer Audi squad WRT insists that it will be able to weather the crisis, having the safety net of its parent company Weerts Group, which specialises in real estate and logistics.

"Of course this crisis is difficult for us," team boss Vincent Vosse told Autosport.

"But for other people it must be much more difficult. We're lucky that we're well-organised and that we made decisions early on so that we can face this situation.

"Fortunately, we have the possibility to provide our employees with temporary work in another area of the group, because a lot of people are needed in the logistics area at the moment."

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