While the V8 Supercars can boast a bigger grid and former DTM driver Alex Premat now at GRM Holden, the DTM series features luxury cars including the Audi S5, BMW M3 and Mercedes-Benz C-Coupe, plus drivers affiliated with F1, including Ralf Schumacher and Gary Paffet. So, which can lay claim to being the best touring car series in the world? EFTM’s Damo and Trev discuss…
Damo: Firstly, I think we have to make mention that we are not including NASCAR here because it’s a completely different type of racing and it is only really popular in the USA. With that done, I must well and truly put my alliance on the side of the DTM. The cars are far more sexy, the drivers of greater international pedigree and the circuits better and more challenging. It’s a better run series, a more professional operation and the proof of that is in the fact that a lot of the teams staff as well as the drivers flirt with, if not end up in, Formula 1. Trev?
Trev: Damo, Damo, Damo – sexy? Really? They are magnificent cars in the showroom which don’t need all those over-stated flares and wings to make them look better. DTM is a little too ‘unreal’ to be a ‘touring car’ series. The beauty of the V8 Supercar series, even in 2013 with the Car of the Future, is to maintain the core look of the vehicles. There is something artificial about the DTM series. Don’t get me wrong, the racing is fantastic – but can you really tell me the V8 supercar series isn’t providing the same high level of racing?
As for the drivers being of international pedigree – you’ve got a mix of up and comers and washed up former superstars racing from their Monaco base because it’s central. Europe is a nice little place, Australia is a bloody long way away so outside of the Bathurst 1000 the chances of us getting global talent in their prime is very low.
And when it comes to a professionally run operation – you clearly haven’t been behind the scenes at a V8 event – they are super professional.
Damo: Surprising, as it doesn’t happen often mate, I agree with a lot of what you are saying, but I still maintain my position. Yes, the V8 Supercar series is ultra professional. That goes without saying, and yes, DTM cars are very racy rather than showroom, and yes, the drivers are up and comers and washed up super stars. But that still doesn’t mean V8 Supercars has the edge on DTM. I don’t want this to be tit for tat, but let’s address what you are saying before entering in some fresh topics.
DTM is just as professional as V8 Supercars at the very least. The reason being that Mercedes-Benz, Audi and BMW throw a lot more money at the series. And no, money doesn’t buy talent, but the talent pool in Europe is very, very deep. In terms of drivers, V8 Supercars has more washed ups than DTM, and they are Aussies washed ups, not even ex-F1. There are some great up and comers in V8s, for sure, but will any be like Paul di Resta, for example?
Now for new pastures. What I can’t understand with V8 Supercars is this push into new territories. The ones they pick are just wrong. Bahrain? Abu Dhabi? Shanghai? Come on. Yes, they are financially proven markets, but the crowds proved that they were just wrong. Did anyone actually turn up to those events? And now America? In the heart of NASCAR country no less (Austin, Texas). That is bound to fail, crowd wise.
DTM understands its boundaries. It pushes into Europe (which, granted, is easier than V8 Supercars expanding), but it knows its limits. Why aren’t the V8s racing in Singapore or Malaysia, or perhaps Indonesia? Why aren’t there more races in New Zealand? If we want to go really far afield, why not the UK? Their touring car series sucks and many of their drivers do the endurance races. Hell, even a lot of their teams have a crack at V8 Supercars. It seems like a natural extension in a market that is pretty flat. Yeah, yeah, European financial crisis, but expansion to territories that don’t give a s**t makes equally less sense.
Trev: Damn, now you’ve got me agreeing with you! The global expansion is crazy. Yes I’m sure there is some commercial motivation which justifies it, but really – Bahrain? Forget the human rights issues – it’s just NOT a V8 Supercar stronghold or even on the verge. I know Eastern Creek isn’t fancy but it’s a purpose built race track – Homebush is appalling for general admission spectators at the event, and don’t get me started on Amaroo or Oran Park.
I think what we can see here clearly is the fact that this is now a TV event not an on-site spectator driven one. These global tracks make it look like an international series and that makes for exciting TV. You make a great point regarding our nearest regional neighbours – perhaps if Singapore was a permanent circuit it would get a run in, but that doesn’t explain Malaysia. Money talks perhaps.
Getting back to the racing, I ask you this – what makes a good race? Is it door to door racing? Is it competitive qualifying and lots of passing? I would say that it comes down to a competitive top set of teams making up a nail-biting qualifying, and a large amount of close panel damage style racing. So which series wins there?
Damo: Hmmmm… that’s a good point, Trev. And it’s bloody hard to judge good racing as a whole. There are some races in both series which makes me just want to tune out and go to sleep, while others I will watch on repeat until I can’t afford my power bill. I would say that DTM has closer door to door action more often but I would also say that the V8 Supercars have more competitors which means that you’re likely to have more spills because the guys at the back are a fair way off the talent levels of the guys at the front. It’s a very competitive series so when you get fields of 30 plus, there are always going to be some that are more than just stragglers. DTM doesn’t have that because there are only 24 cars on the grid and plenty of people banging on the door to get in, arguably more so than V8s. I guess what it comes down to is if you want more focused racing, then DTM is the go, but if you want more action throughout the field, then V8 Supercars perhaps has the edge.
I think the track quality has a lot to do with it as well. I’ll let you have your rant about which series you think has closer racing, but I would then argue that the quality of the tracks in DTM is far greater which inspires more confidence in the drivers to really go for some of their overtaking moves knowing that they are less likely to come unstuck in a big way. Australia doesn’t have the sheer amount of quality race tracks that Germany does. And of course, DTM uses some great race tracks outside of Germany as well. Show me an Aussie track that matches Hockenheim-ring, Adria or Nurburgring.
Trev: Hang on, Nurburgring the complete circuit maybe… But are you seriously kidding me? Is there a better track in the world than Mt Panorama? 6.213km of pure racing heaven. Up hill, blind corners, fast curves, blind drop and turn, tight esses, super long straight and with its most recent update top notch facilities… Come on!
I’m not after pure production racing, if I wanted that I’d jump in the Delorian and head back to the early 90’s for some group E racing. But as far as “Touring Cars” go, V8s have it hands down
DTM should be renamed.
Damo: OK, OK, hold on one second mate. I’m talking here from a racing perspective and a safety perspective. Mt Panorama and the old Nurburgring (I was talking about the new short one by the way) are all well and good, but they are conducive to passing as much as the new circuits are, and they are not up to standard either in terms of facilities. Bathurst is getting there with the upgrades, but you can’t just compare the best either. Have a look at the worst of it. I dare you to find a DTM track that is comparable to Symmons Plains. That place is a shocker. Boring track, bad facilities, bad racing.
Trev: That hairpin at Symmons Plains is a rare and awesome corner. Shame about the rest of the track really, although the racing was awesome. I’m not suggesting returning to Amaroo and Oran Park, but there is something to be said for raw race tracks.
In reality, we’re not going to determine the ‘best’ series – surely each has its place. Importantly, each has its market – DTM wouldn’t survive in Australia, just like the Porsche Cup wouldn’t work as our ‘main’ series. However, I reckon the V8 Supercars does have legs overseas – in the UK it could work with the Vauxhall badged HSV’s quite popular there.
The question is, what matters most – local popularity or global success and popularity?
Damo: Yeah, you know what. Another point agreed upon. At the end of the day we are talking not about which one is crap and which one is good, but which is best of two very, very good series. I’m still putting my money on DTM but both could potentially expand to a more global market and possibly even complement each other. It might be time to put this question to bed. I’m going to assume you still place V8 Supercars as number one?
Trev: I’ll leave it with this – I’ll stop what I’m doing to get to a TV for a V8 race. DTM however, I’ll stick it on if there is nothing else on the box. Love it while it’s on, but it’s hard to get right into.
Damian Francis has previously edited Australian T3 and F1 Racing magazine and wrote for GQ Australia and Men’s Health. Unlike Nick and Trev, he has no kids, no mortgage and no wife, but lives happily on Sydney’s North Shore with his girlfriend.