Abt wants to bow out of its championship with a win
For Abt Sportsline, the championship year is heading onto the finish straight with the final of the DTM (Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters) at Hockenheim. Laurent Aiello, who sensationally clinched the title in Europe's premier touring car series for the team from Kempten last season, will be replaced by his successor next weekend. For the final round, team director Hans-Jürgen Abt has issued a clear mission statement: "We want to bow out of this season with a fine performance -- the best way would be with a victory."
The final at Hockenheim looks set to be one of the most spectacular weekends of this season. Already now, over 45,000 tickets have been sold, which promises a new record crowd for the DTM at this traditional venue for the closing round of the season. "Even though we can no longer win the championship, we want to provide a great show for the fans", Hans-Jürgen Abt announces. "We don't have to think of any tactics and we can attack freely."
Within the team from the Allgäu, there are quite a few candidates for victory. First and foremost, of course, champion Laurent Aiello. So far, he is the only driver having succeeded in breaking Mercedes's winning streak with his victory at the Nürburgring. But obviously, one win this season is too little for the Frenchman, who has already won many titles during his career. The second candidate is Mattias Ekström, currently fourth in the championship, even ahead of his French team-mate. The Swedish shooting star has already been on the podium four times this year, the only thing missing for him is the place on the top step.
"This year, too, we are having a well-balanced driver line-up", Hans-Jürgen Abt is delighted. Next to Aiello and Ekström, he also has Christian Abt and youngster Martin Tomczyk, two more candidates for being among the front-runners in this top class field of drivers. And while Peter Terting, only 19 years old, is in his learning year I the DTM, stalwart Karl Wendlinger is succeeding time and time again to make it into the top ten with his Abt-Audi TT-R from the 2002 season, like most recently at Zandvoort.
This year again, the focus is entirely on the fans during the final round at Hockenheim. For instance, there will be an autograph session with all the DTM-drivers in the paddock on Saturday afternoon again. After the finish of the race, the track in the Motodrom will be turned into a parc fermé with the prize-giving ceremony for the winning drivers taking place on a rolling podium in the middle of the fans. "A great thing that our drivers are enjoying, too. Exactly that interaction with the fans is what makes the DTM so unique, a difference from Formula 1-weekends", says Hans-Jürgen Abt.
Quotes before the race
Laurent Aiello (Abt-Audi TT-R #1):
"I was proud of being allowed to race in the DTM with the starting number one for one entire season. And when I have to give up my title, I prefer to do so with a victory. The track at Hockenheim suits me, I don't have to pay attention to any tactics. The fans can look forward to a great show."
Christian Abt (Abt-Audi TT-R #2):
"Even though things weren't going as perfectly sometimes this year when compared to the previous season, our fans have been supporting us completely each weekend. We want to thank them once more with a good result a Hockenheim. Even though Mercedes is celebrating the title, we won't let them win the Hockenheim race without some stiff opposition."
Mattias Ekström (Abt-Audi TT-R #5):
"Of course, it is my goal to become the best-placed Abt driver. Therefore, the battle between Laurent (Aiello) and me will be an exciting affair, as we are separated by only one point. This season, I definitely wanted to win races and a couple of times, I have come really close. It looks like I only have one chance left now..."
Karl Wendlinger (Abt-Audi TT-R #6):
"I am quite relaxed coming to the final. The result of Zandvoort, where I made it into the points, was a reward for the entire team for the hard work done this year. When the performance of my Abt-Audi TT-R is that good again at Hockenheim, I can make it into the top ten again."
Martin Tomczyk (Abt-Audi TT-R #14):
"I have no trouble at the track at Hockenheim. During the season opener in April, I made it up to second place on the grid in the first Super Pole. Of course, I hope that I can do so again and that I then can make the best of my chance."
Peter Terting (Abt-Audi TT-R #15):
"It is quite a strange feeling indeed coming back to Hockenheim, where I contested my first DTM-race back in April. I have learnt a lot since and obviously, that is what I want to prove during the final. And I am of course also looking forward to the great crowd in the Motodrom."