DTM explains decision to race in Russia in 2020

Tom Errington
DTM explains decision to race in Russia
DTM explains decision to race in Russia

DTM boss Gerhard Berger has explained the series' decision to race in Russia at new venue Igora Drive.

The new circuit was teased as a "very exciting" addition when the calendar was partially revealed in September and Igora Drive's inclusion was then revealed in a press conference hosted at the circuit and attended by DTM drivers Rene Rast, Philipp Eng and Daniel Juncadella.

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The arrival of Igora Drive will make the DTM's first return to Russia after a stint racing at Moscow Raceway between 2013-17 and is the third new addition to the '20 calendar alongside former Swedish Grand Prix venue Anderstorp and current Formula 1 venue Monza.

The Moscow DTM race suffered from poor attendance and media interest but Berger believes Igora Drive has the potential to be a success.

When Autosport asked why the DTM would return to Russia, Berger said: "I think it's [because of] internationalisation. We need to see that we cover important markets.

"I think Russia is a big market and St Petersburg was a great opportunity. I think it fits into the calendar."

Berger believes that Igora Drive's close proximity to St Petersburg - roughly 50 miles away - means it has better prospects than Moscow Raceway, which was 61 miles away from the capital.

The DTM boss explained that the initial discussions with Igora Drive began in 2018 through a mutual contact close to the circuit.

Describing Moscow Raceway as "too far out of Moscow" and having "no soul", Berger says he "had the feeling the people tried to do something [different] and the circuit is much closer to St Petersburg this time".

DTM explains decision to race in Russia
DTM explains decision to race in Russia

"The opportunity was there with St Petersburg," Berger continued, "First, you look at a country and say 'is it important for the market of the industry?'

"But then the most important thing is the people behind it to make a good event. Because just putting a race there and waiting, it doesn't work.

"You need a force behind it to advertise, to promote it. So we came to the conclusion and a group of people convinced us that they will deliver a good event."

Igora Drive slots into a busy period of the DTM calendar with three rounds taking place in a month, with the Russian event slotting between the Lausitzring and Anderstorp.

Berger played down the significance of logistics, pointing out that "Barcelona is further from Lausitzring than Russia".

The 2020 DTM calendar has a split of 60-40 in favour of non-German rounds and Berger says that this is the "maximum" ratio that the DTM will go for.

It is unlikely to expand beyond 10 rounds in the near future as it would require additional engines and parts to cover the extra mileage.

Igora Drive has been repeatedly linked to hosting a Formula 1 race, but officials have played down the prospect of the Russian Grand Prix moving away from current venue Sochi.

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