The hunt for Mercedes-driver Bernd Schneider
By Harald Bloche - Motorsport.com
Stuttgart. With his race win in the season opener at Hockenheim, reigning champion Bernd Schneider, driving a Mercedes-Benz CLK-DTM, has proved his ambition to defend his title this year. But already in the next round of the DTM (Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters) at the Nurburgring this week-end, the other competitors are after the number one. Also Schneider's fellow-Mercedes-driver, Uwe Alzen, who moved over from Opel during the winter, announces pressure: "My goal is pole-position, or at least a place on the first row of the grid. Also a super driver like Bernd Schneider should be beatable. It is down to all of us to achieve this." The driver from Betzdorf loves the Nurburgring: "It is a track with a great tradition, and my favourite track at that. I have grown up on the Nordschleife and the Grand Prix-track, I know every inch of asphalt there. Because of the more slippery track, we can use a harder set-up than in Hockenheim and the track is also much more fluent."
For Opel, the start of the season was not really satisfying: sixth place on the grid for vice-champion Manuel Reuter, Timo Scheider's eleventh position in the race and the quickest tyre change by the Opel Team Holzer were the highlights. Opel motorsport director Volker Strycek: "We are working consistently and strategically in order to being able to achieve a better result at the Nurburgring." Just like Alzen, Opel-youngster Scheider knows the track very well. He has won his first Formula 3-race at the Ring. Scheider: "The Grand Prix-track offers some opportunities for overtaking: before the Castrol-S, the Veedol-Z and the Dunlop-hairpin, I find that great."
Highly motivated is the Team Abt Sportsline, which finished in the points with Christian Abt and Laurent Aiello in the opening round, although three of the four Abt-Audi TT-Rs were ready only just before the race week-end. "The start was already quite good, but we have planned more for this year", says Christian Abt. "We want to confirm our performance at the Ring and maybe even fight for the podium." The preparation programme for the Bavarian squad therefore was comprehensive. After the season opener, all cars were entirely taken apart and every single part was checked. And in the days before the Nurburgring-round, one thing will be practiced especially: pitstops, at the driving centre in Kempten.
Super-prize game for race visitors
It is well known that the DTM goes to great lengths for fans: pitwalk, paddock tickets, video-walls, fan-TV and moderate ticket prices are the norm. But that is not enough: on race Sunday, visitors have the opportunity to win a co-drive in a race-taxi, a unique experience. A Mercedes-Benz CLK-DTM and an Abt-Audi TT-R, as well as an Opel Astra Kit Car are available as taxis, drivers will be the DTM-stars.