Stefan Dreyer: “The format of the DTM is really tough”

The Head of Powertrain Development talks about the new Audi turbo engine for the DTM

Stefan Dreyer, Head of Powertrain Development at Audi Motorsport, explains the magnitude of the challenge posed by the new DTM turbo engines.

What are the stages of the development process for a new race engine?
Following the initial concept stage, you try to gather experiences with a one-cylinder unit relatively fast. Subsequently, you develop the complete engine. Static and dynamic rig testing is followed by tests on the race track and ultimately by deployment in racing. The entire project is supported by simulations and calculations.

How long does it take to develop an engine like the new DTM turbo power-plant?
Two to two and a half years. In the case of the DTM turbo engine, we stopped the development for one year because the introduction of the new power-plant was postponed to 2019. Now we’re happy and proud to be able to enter a new DTM era with the new engines. I’m convinced that we’ll be able to deliver the most spectacular touring car racing of all time to fans and customers.

How many hours did the new DTM engine run on the dyno?
That’s hard to quantify, but I think that we’re in a range of some 1,000 hours. Every engine subsequently runs on the dynamometer for another two to three hours before being installed in the car for racing. We run a break-in program, a performance check and various functional checks. A DTM engine has to last for a full season. This means that our specialists on the dyno must be one hundred percent sure that the engine they’re going to deploy is really top-notch. We apply the four-eye principle here to guarantee that we’ll be in good shape on the grid.

What exactly happens in rig testing?
Rig testing is a broad subject. Reduced to powertrain and engine development, we’re talking about three types of test rigs. On the one-cylinder dyno, we focus on combustion process development and friction performance investigations and also already on endurance testing to some extent. This has the advantage of allowing for fast and flexible testing of different versions. Then there’s the so-called engine dyno on which the full engine is developed and applied. Finally, there’s the suspension test bench on which we run the entire downforce of the vehicle with maximum realism.

In the early days of the turbo engine, durability was a big issue. Is this still the case today?
Technologies, materials and development tools have seen a continuous evolution over the years. However, when you develop a race engine at the limit the basic challenge is still the same, so I wouldn’t distinguish between yesterday and today. The format of the DTM is a great challenge. The long mileage, distributed to many events with short runs, is really tough.

What mileage is the DTM engine designed for?
For some 6,000 kilometers, in other words the total distance driven during the season.

The new turbo engine has a lot more power and higher torque than the old naturally aspirated V8 engine. What does this mean for the powertrain of the Audi RS 5 DTM?
The four-cylinder turbo power-plant delivers a higher output of more than 100 horsepower. The higher torque puts an additional load on the entire powertrain, too. Plus, the vibration behavior of the four-cylinder engine differs completely from that of the V8. That was a huge challenge in the development of the engine, as well as for our test rigs.