After a brief and not particularly successful Indy racing campaign, Alfa Corse returned its attention to touring cars in the early 1990s. The 1992 season showed that it was a good decision as the newly developed 155 SuperTurismo won 17 of a possible 20 races in the Italian championship. These highly encouraging results inspired Alfa Romeo to look abroad for stronger competition. They found it in Germany where the local manufacturers competed in the 'Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft' (DTM). Fortunately for the Italian newcomers, the regulations for touring car racing were extensively revised for 1993.
From 1993 onwards touring car races would be run under two separate classes; FIA Class 1 and Class 2. The main distinction between the two was the level of modifications required. The Class 2 cars had to stay very close to the homologated road cars while there was considerable freedom to develop the Class 1 machines. Not surprisingly Class 2 was adapted by most of the national championship as it had the lowest threshold. It was also fitting that DTM, the most competitive of all touring car championships, incorporated the much more extreme Class 1 regulations. Alfa Romeo set out to develop a 155 racer for each of the two classes.
While the basic shape of the street car had to be retained, the Alfa Corse engineers were given almost free reign for the rest. The absolute star of the DTM 155 was the drivetrain, which combined a high revving V6 engine with the newly developed Q4 four-wheel drive system. Displacing just 2.5 litre, the all alloy, Naturally Aspirated engine produced a staggering 400 bhp at 11500 rpm. That was as much as the SuperTurismo raced in 1992 and that had Turbocharged engine. The engine was mounted ahead of the front axle and the six-speed gearbox was fitted separately in the middle of the car for better weight balance. About a third of the power was sent to the front wheels with rest going to the rear.
To comply with the regulations the steel unitary chassis of the road going 155 was retained. All of the panels also looked 'stock' but they were all made from carbon fibre. Except for a wing on the rear deck all other aerodynamics had to be fitted below the height of the wheel hub. This resulted in deep side skirts and a very elaborate front bumper. It sported various ducts to channel air to the radiators and also created considerable downforce. The standard air-intakes in the grille were used to feed the six intake trumpets. Inside the car little reminded of the road car; the single seat was mounted virtually in the middle of the car alongside the gearbox.
Alfa Corse entered two 155 V6 TIs for works drivers Alessandro Nanini and Nicola Larini. Both of these Italians had previously raced in F1 and in 1992 were responsible for Alfa's domination in the Italian SuperTurismo championship From the start of the season it was obvious that the new Alfa Romeo was the creme of the crop. The main opposition came from the various Mercedes-Benz teams that campaigned a 190 E that was a development of car campaigned in the previous seasons. With 12 victories out of a possible 20, the Alfa Corse team dominated. Ten of these were won by Larini, who was crowned champion at the end of the season.
The crushing defeat inspired Mercedes-Benz / AMG to develop a brand new DTM racer based on the recently introduced C Class. A year later Opel also joined the fun with a Calibra DTM car. The Alfa Corse engineers also continued development of the 155. First the standard gearbox was replaced by a sequential 'box and eventually a F1-style paddle-operated semi-automatic gearbox was fitted. The engine was constantly worked on. In its final guise had a wider 90-degree V-angle and produced a staggering 490 bhp at 12,000 rpm. More subtle were the various adjustments to the aerodynamics over the years.
The 155 V6 TI was campaigned up to 1996 when the DTM was replaced by the newly created International Touring Car Championship (ITC). In 1994 the new Mercedes seemed to have the advantage but Alfa did manage to win a further 11 races. A more consistent performance from the Germans gave them the title. The 1995 version of the 155 suffered from an overkill in electronics, which in an Italian car is never a good thing. Now four seasons old, the considerably lighter and more powerful 155 once again rose to the top. In the second half of the year the Italian machine scored six consecutive victories against the more recent opposition.
At the end of the 1996 season Alfa Romeo and Opel announced their withdrawal from the ITC, which effectively killed off the series. While resulting in great racing and cars the ever spiraling costs brought the DTM/ITC to an end. For Alfa Romeo the DTM had brought great success; the 155 had scored a never equalled 38 victories. It had been a glorious couple of seasons for Alfa Corse as the Class 2 version of the 155 won the national championships in Great Britain and Spain and finished runner up in Italy.
Featured above is one of the original Alfa Romeo 155 V6 TIs campaigned by Alfa Corse in the 1993 season. It is shown in Alfa Romeo's Museo Storico. The specifications listed are for the 1993 version.
BUT OF COURSE!! this little v6 I think should be known and most credited in the DTM races because it dominated and to give those MB and Opel,Audi big v8 powerplants the competition a 450 hp from a v6 and the others had 470hp from a v8.This car should be in the Hall of Fame of the DTM. but then you can only compete so much when your competitors have v8 powerplants and you have a v6.MB,Audi,only really dominate the DTM these days is because Alfa Romeo dropped out but if the Alfa team ever came back with their own v8 powerplant those guys better look out.The DTM racing organization should really give ALfa the true respect and really look closely how this car is a true racer against what came even when the odds where obviuos for a v6 against a v8 you cant get better than that.