Audi will expand to run eight cars in the DTM this year, with Adrien Tambay getting a newly opened spot at Team Abt.
The team had originally been set to run three cars for Mattias Ekstrom, Timo Scheider and Rahel Frey, meaning that Audi was set to field a seven-car entry. Audi's head of motorsport Wolfgang Ullrich said that the opportunity had since arisen to field an extra car under the Abt banner, although he admitted plans might not come together in time for the season-opening round at Hockenheim.
"As we had to develop an extremely challenging hybrid car – the Audi R18 e-tron quattro – for the Le Mans 24 Hours and concurrently a completely new DTM vehicle we were initially planning for seven cars in 2012," Ullrich explained. "I'm happy that the opportunity to enter eight cars has now materialized. I'm convinced that in view of the DTM's high level it'll be advantageous to compete with the maximum number of possible cars.
"This is a major logistical feat and puts maximum demands on the entire squad. Our aim is to field the eighth car as early as possible. We were poised for fielding eight vehicles in the DTM as early as last year and are assuming that no later than in 2013 all manufacturers will be competing with at least eight cars."
Tambay, 21, has a background in open-wheelers, although he did contest two races in an Audi R8 in the FIA GT3 championship last year. He also scored one victory and five podiums on his way to finishing fourth in Auto GP.
Ullrich said Tambay had proved a good fit for Audi's present and future direction.
"We took several young drivers on board in recent years, some of whom joined us from Volkswagen's talent incubator in Formula 3," he explained. "I feel that today Audi has a very good base in terms of its driver lineup, which also means that the brand is oriented toward the future. This also applies to Adrien, who convinced us in tests and is a good fit for the Audi family."