Ingolstadt -- AUDI AG targets the successful defence of the DTM championship title with an interesting and strong mix of big names and young talented drivers. Oliver Jarvis (GB/24), Katherine Legge (GB/27) and Markus Winkelhock (D/27) have secured the three remaining cockpits within the Audi factory team for which racing drivers from around the world were in contention.
"We really couldn't complain about a lack of interest," explains Head of Audi Motorsport Dr Wolfgang Ullrich. "A lot of big-name drivers also approached us, which shows just how interesting Audi and the DTM are. It was, however, clear from the off that we would stick to our strategy of further rejuvenating our driver squad and, quite logically, to nurture our own talent alongside our established stars."
Oliver Jarvis, Katherine Legge (both Great Britain) and Markus Winkelhock (Germany) made lasting impressions during a driver evaluation in Spain and, in the process, secured their seats for the 2008 DTM.
With the 27-year-old Markus Winkelhock, Audi signed one of the most promising and well-known young German racing drivers. The Swabian scooped the headlines worldwide last year when he sensationally led the race on his Formula 1 debut at the Nurburgring. He laid the foundations for his future at Audi with solid performances in the DTM as stand-in for the injured Tom Kristensen and later in the Audi customer team Futurecom TME.
The 27-year-old Briton Katherine Legge follows in the footsteps of Michèle Mouton, Tamara Vidali and Vanina Ickx. Over the last two years she created quite a stir in the North American Champ Car Series. Katherine Legge is the most successful woman ever to have competed in the US counterpart to Formula 1. The British girl has also already completed her first Formula 1 tests.
Twenty four-year-old Oliver Jarvis is regarded as one of Great Britain's brightest future prospects. In November 2007 he won the famous Formula 3 Grand Prix in Macau. Jarvis has also recorded several victories for his homeland's national team in the A1GP series.
The three newcomers got acquainted with their team mates last week at the Audi winter training, which traditionally serves as a fitness check and team building event.
Defending DTM Champion Mattias Ekstrom starts the 2008 season with the latest generation Audi A4 DTM sporting the number 1. At the "Race of Champions" in December the Swede, already regarded as one of the world's best and most popular racing drivers, defeated among others, Michael Schumacher.
With the seven-time Le Mans winner Tom Kristensen, Audi has another superstar under contract. The Dane, who has now fully recovered from the effects of his heavy accident at the beginning of the 2007 season, is just as popular in his homeland Denmark as Michael Schumacher in Germany and is also an international star.
Martin Tomczyk, the best placed German driver in the 2007 DTM, starts again for Audi. With Alexandre Premat (France), Mike Rockenfeller and Timo Scheider (both Germany), Audi also has three young drivers in its ranks who claimed their first podium finishes in the DTM last year and are regarded as potential winners in the 2008 season.
Head of Audi Motorsport Dr Wolfgang Ullrich is convinced about the quality of the squad: "I believe this is the strongest driver line-up since our comeback as a factory team in the DTM. From the talent point of view, I'm sure that we are well represented for the impending tough battle against Mercedes-Benz and, furthermore, we have a driving squad that is very popular and will be well supported by the Audi fans."
In the 2008 DTM, Mattias Ekstrom, Tom Kristensen, Timo Scheider and Martin Tomczyk, drive the latest generation Audi A4 DTM cars, which are entered by Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline. Mike Rockenfeller and Markus Winkelhock will compete for Audi Sport Team Rosberg, Oliver Jarvis and Alexandre Premat for Audi Sport Team Phoenix. Katherine Legge's A4 DTM will be entered by the Audi customer team Futurecome TME. Also in 2008, the team will nominate a driver for the second cockpit themselves.
The first public test days for the 2008 season will be held between 10 and 12 March at Mugello (Italy) and 31 March and 2 April at the Motorsportarena Oschersleben (Germany).