DTM-field for 2001 almost completed: a mix of stars and youngsters -
countdown to the season opener is running
By Harald Bloche - Motorsport.com
February 20, 2001
Stuttgart. Less than nine weeks to go before the DTM (Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters) goes underway into its second season in Hockenheim, April 22. The calendar for 2001 comprises ten events and traditionally, the opening round at the twisty 2.638 km short layout of the Hockenheim circuit promises plenty of action. Currently, 17 drivers for the new season have been signed - an attractive mix of established stars and ambitious youngsters.
Last year's vice-champion, Manuel Reuter, and Joachim Winkelhock are spearheading the line-up at Opel with the Opel Astra V8 Coup. 39-year old Reuter is entering his tenth season with Opel in 2001. Fellow-Opel-driver Winkelhock, 40, is currently the oldest driver around, now that threefold DTM-champion Klaus Ludwig ended his career after the 2000 season. Opel's two junior drivers are Timo Scheider, 22, and 23-year old Steffen Schulz, who is new in the team. Opel's motorsport director Volker Strycek: "With these four drivers and the Holzer and Phoenix-teams, we have set the foundation for our campaign."
Only one piece is still missing in the Mercedes-jigsaw puzzle for the 2001 season - nine drivers have already been signed. Will be driving for HWA AMG Mercedes: reigning champion Bernd Schneider, 36, Mercedes new signing Uwe Alzen, 33, Scotsman Peter Dumbreck, 27 as well as 24-year old Swiss Marcel Fassler. The Team Eschmann-Manthey, operated by former DTM-driver Olaf Manthey with its two drivers Patrick Huisman, 34, from The Netherlands and 29-year old German Bernd Maylander is new. In 2001, Maylander will continue to drive the safety car at all rounds of the Formula 1 World Championship. Briton Darren Turner, 26, and Portugese Pedro Lamy, 28, will be driving for the Rosberg-team again, 24-year old German Thomas Jager will be entered by Persson.
The Abt Sportsline-squad presents itself complete and rejuvenated: all four drivers for the four new Abt-Audi TT-Rs are already known. Christian Abt, 33, and Frenchman Laurent Aiello, 31, are staying with the team and will be partnered by youngsters Mattias Ekstrom, 22, from Sweden and 19-year old Bavarian Martin Tomczyk. "It is our purpose to give young drivers a chance", says team boss Hans-Jrgen Abt. "And with his 19 years, Martin is even the youngest DTM-driver ever." The two impressed during their first tests. Abt: "In Vallelunga, quite a challenging track, they have both done a magnificent job." It has yet to be decided whether any more Abt-Audi TT-R from last season will be entered by privateers.
In the third week of March, the circuit of Hockenheim will be hosting the first tests with all the three makes together, and also with the DTM-cars to the 2001-specifications.