“You’re always sliding the car, spanking it yet controlling it all the time. As a driver, you’re more aware of the balance than the sheer speed.” It’s 2004, and works Audi driver – and soon to be eight-time Le Mans winner – Tom Kristensen is tightening my race harness in an Audi A4 DTM car.
These mid-Noughties German touring cars really were something to behold. Audi, BMW, Merc and Opel all fielded increasingly lairy-looking cars, – the 2004 A4 was one of the most successful. These cars, unlike their real-world cousins, had carbon body panels clothing a tubular spaceframe chassis, complete with carbon safety cell for the driver and carbon crash structures, front and rear.
There was proper aero, too: Audi startled the rest of the pitlane in ’04 by adding spectacular winglets all over the rear wheel arches, with equally eye-catching vents on the front. The engine was a nat-asp 4.0-litre V8, with dry-sump lubrication, while a pair of mandatory air restrictors pegged the output back to around 345kW. Enough in a car that weighed 1,050kg with the driver on board. Steering was by servo-assisted rack and pinion, and there was double wishbone suspension front and rear, using a pushrod spring and damper unit and adjustable gas-pressurised dampers.
Because these cars were prototypes pretending to be saloons, they ended up with an extraordinary driving position. The driver sat a long way back, whe