French driver Laurent Aiello believes Abt Sportsline can take the DTM fight to Opel and Mercedes next season. Aiello, who won two races for Abt last season has again been loaned to the team from Audi AG, with whom he has extended his contract. Finishing fifth last season in the DTM championship, Aiello also came second for Audi at Le Mans.

"In the past two years, we have grown to create a real community in the team, we have been working hard and have had the reward for it a couple of times already," he said. "Now, we must continue to concentrate all our efforts in order to beat Mercedes and Opel. I am really looking forward to that."

Team boss Hans-Jurgen Abt commented: "Following our strong season, not only my own guys, but the entire Allgau region, is looking forward to the next DTM season. All of us are in for quite something."

Abt will launch five cars into the championship next year, one of which will be driven by former Grand Prix racer Karl Wendlinger. The 32 year old previously drove for Sauber and March in the early nineties and will line up at Abt alongside Laurent Aiello, Christian Abt, Mattias Ekstrom and Martin Tomczyk. Wendlinger raced in touring cars in for Audi A4 in Germany and Italy in 1996 and 1997 and more recently drove in the American Le Mans Series and the German silhouette V8STAR championship.

"I know the Abt-guys from the Super-Tourenwagen Cup as an easy-going and good team," said Wendlinger. "With its fast cars and three participating makes, the DTM is a great challenge for me. I want to show a good performance and be competitive as soon as possible."