Premiere in Italy: Audi RS 5 DTM to race at night for the first time

Audi Sport RS 5 DTM #33 (Audi Sport Team Rosberg), René Rast

An all-new challenge is in store for DTM Champion René Rast and his fellow drivers this weekend: The team from Audi Sport will compete in the first DTM race to be held under floodlights. The Italian seaside resort of Misano Adriatico will host the first two night races in DTM history on Saturday and Sunday (August 25/26), each starting at 10.30 PM (CEST).

In 2003, qualifying at the Nürburgring was held after nightfall, and a 25-year-old youngster by the name of Mattias Ekström at the wheel of an Abt Audi TT-R was the front runner back then. However, an official DTM race has never been held at night before – until now. On the DTM’s return to Italy, both races will take place after sunset for the first time.

Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli near Rimini is hosting the premiere. The venue of the MotoGP Grand Prix of San Marino has floodlights, which makes it perfectly suited for night races. Unforgotten has been the memorable race of the 1999 German Super Touring Car Championship there that Christian Abt won in an Audi A4 quattro. In sweltering heat, he managed to overtake Uwe Alzen’s Opel shortly before the finish.

At that time, the races at Misano were still run counter-clockwise. Today, the teams drive clockwise on the 4.226-kilometer track. According to simulation, the Audi RS 5 DTM achieves a top speed of about 250 km/h there. Most of the turns are semi-fast ones. “The exception is a mega fast corner toward the end of the lap,” says René Rast.

The Audi driver also knows Misano from events in the Audi R8 LMS GT3 race car, as do his fellow Audi drivers Robin Frijns and Jamie Green. The Briton Green just recently, in June of this year, won a round of the Italian GT Championship and did a vision test there at night as well. “In some of the sections, it was pretty dark in spite of the the floodlights,” says the Audi driver who at Mugello in 2008 was the winner of the most recent DTM race held in Italy to date. “Unlike a GT3 car, our DTM cars only have daytime running lights, but are much faster. That’s why additional lighting is still needed, or else things might get tricky.”

To enhance the visibility of the instruments and switches, the cockpits are illuminated. Audi uses the same black light that was utilized in the brand’s LMP1 race cars at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. In addition, fans at the race track and in front of their TV screens can look forward to seeing fluorescent car numbers and partner logos on the six Audi RS 5 DTM cars.

In addition to the first two night races in DTM history, another highlight is awaiting visitors at Misano Adriatico: On Saturday night, starting at 8.30 PM, Italian rock singer Gianna Nannini will perform a one-and-a-half-hour concert in the paddock. The DTM debut of Italian Alessandro Zanardi will attract additional attention.

“We are very much looking forward to this great event,” says Head of Audi Motorsport Dieter Gass. “The night races are uncharted waters and at Misano, nobody has any experience with a current DTM car. Even late at night, we’re still expecting high temperatures. Our aim is to build on our good performances most recently at Zandvoort and Brands Hatch, and to deliver a good show to the fans.”

ran racing will air live prime-time coverage of the two DTM night races in Germany on kabel eins, starting at 10.15 PM (CEST) respectively on Saturday and Sunday.