2nd run, Circuito do Estoril, 30th April - 2nd May 2004 DTM youngsters will travel to portugal as leaders After its much jubilant season opening in homey Hockenheim, DTM is off for the Atlantic coast. On the Circuito do Estoril, Portugal, the ...
2nd run, Circuito do Estoril, 30th April - 2nd May 2004
DTM youngsters will travel to portugal as leaders
After its much jubilant season opening in homey Hockenheim, DTM is off for the Atlantic coast. On the Circuito do Estoril, Portugal, the second race of the 2004 season will be held under the name "Tribute to Ayrton Senna". Three youngsters from three different nations are on top of the league: 23-year-old British Gary Paffett (10 points) is leading ahead Dutchman Christijan Albers (eight points) and Swede Mattias Ekström (six points), both of them 25 years old. The race on the 4.183 km Grand Prix circuit near Lisboa will feature 37 laps and a total 154.771 km.
Mattias Ekström: "Our Audi likes the corners"
The debut of the new DTM in Estoril has been preceded by four day tests in March at the end of which Tom Kristensen marked best-time in an Audi A4 DTM. This makes Kristensen optimistic, who was also placed fourth at season opening: "Especially in the last corner, right before start and finish, the Audi was very well on the road. This is of mayor importance if you want to take the long straight at high speed."
Kristensen's team colleague Mattias Ekström says: "As anywhere, top speed is important in Estoril, but fortunately the circuit also has many corners which is something our A4 DTM likes a lot." Audi's sporting director Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich adds: "During the race, we want to validate the good impressions we got during our tests in Estoril, and we want to be able to win. The track's characteristics are completely different from Hockenheim's. I like the raceway very much and I am looking forward to another exciting DTM race."
Gary Paffett: "I expect a tough race"
"I hope that I will win in Estoril, too," says season-opening's winner Gary Paffett. "But looking at my competitors, this will be very hard. Glancing at testing times I expect a tough and tight race." Norbert Haug, sporting director of Mercedes-Benz, is of the same opinion: "Tests in Estoril made before season start showed that there was great evenness between the manufacturers. Repeating our succes from the first race won't be easy."
An optimistic one is Stefan Mücke, who, driving a last year AMG-Mercedes CLK, was on his way into point ranks when a grinding mud guard stopped him. Mücke likes "the track, which is diversified and has many fast sections". He believes Estoril to be a raceway where "CLK drivers too have a chance of scoring points."
Manuel Reuter: "I have pleasant memories of Estoril."
"I like Portugal's flair, and I have pleasant memories of Estoril," says Manuel Reuter. No wonder: In 1996, when DTM went under its international name ITC, Reuter became champion in an Opel Calibra V6 and he then, too, started in Estoril. "The track has been modified a bit since then. The first corner used to be extremely fast. Now it has turned into a hairpin bend. I wonder how things will be going there after start." Manuel Reuter, too, is in good temper about Portugal: "During the tests our Opel Vectra GTS V8 was always very fast. This makes me optimistic."
Opel's sporting director Volker Strycek adds: "From sportsmen's point of view we do, of course, hope to take up Peter Dumbreck's high performance during season opening in Hockenheim." There, in a sensational hunt and starting from the end of the field, Dumbreck fought himself up to rank six. Jeroen Bleekemolen, who is one of the five out of 21 drivers in a one year car, is awaiting good chances for his Opel Astra V8 Coupé: "In Hockenheim I was rated best driver in a one year car and so I reached my personal aim. I am hoping for a similar achievement in Estoril."