Audi expects BMW to make a strong start to the DTM season, despite its newcomer status in the series.
BMW is racing in the DTM for the first time since 1992, whereas Mercedes and Audi have been involved in the championship since its rebirth in 2000. And the performance of the M3 DTM from the Munich manufacturer in testing at Hockenheim last week, where it was the slowest of the three new models in action, prompted talk that BMW was behind its rivals.
However, BMW's recruits from Mercedes (Bruno Spengler) and Audi (reigning champion Martin Tomczyk) have played down the testing performance, and Audi Sport boss Wolfgang Ullrich expects the returning marque to be on the pace from the start of the season.
"BMW has been very intensively preparing for the DTM for more than a year,"said Ullrich. "And, just like Audi and Mercedes, [it has] developed a new car according to new regulations which are the same for everyone.
"In view of the touring car know-how that BMW has gathered in many years of work in the field [in championships such as the WTCC], we're expecting to meet with a very strong rival - and that's exactly our assessment of BMW right from the first race weekend on."
Ullrich even suggested that BMW could benefit from coming into the DTM with a fresh approach.
"Naturally, experience gives you a minor advantage," he added. "On the other hand, a brand new entrant may have the benefit of doing things in a different way, which may prove to give them a minor advantage. It will be very interesting."