DTM

Zandvoort: Abt Sportsline race report

Abt Sportsline is the new DTM-champion after victory at Zandvoort Abt Sportsline has achieved its biggest success in motor sport in the history of the company, that goes back over 100 years. Victory of his team mate Mattias Ekström at Zandvoort...

Abt Sportsline is the new DTM-champion after victory at Zandvoort

Abt Sportsline has achieved its biggest success in motor sport in the history of the company, that goes back over 100 years. Victory of his team mate Mattias Ekström at Zandvoort allowed Laurent Aiello to secure the title in the DTM (Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters) with one race to go. After the triumph in the 1999 STW championship, the Team Abt Sportsline from Kempten has also won Germany's most important motorsport category, defeating the strong competition from Mercedes-Benz and Opel with the Abt-Audi TT-R.

With a dominant fastest time in qualifying, Laurent Aiello laid the basis for his early title win. However, the situation changed dramatically overnight: because the fuel sample taken on Saturday evening was not identical with the fuel specification allowed for Zandvoort, the points leader was banned from participation in the qualification race and could only start the main race from last place on the grid. The apparent reason was left-over fuel from testing, that had polluted the racing fuel. Although overtaking is known to be extremely difficult, Aiello made up from 21st to sixth place and even scored one point with this champion-like performance.

Perfect team work made Aiello finally become the new DTM champion.Christian Abt and Mattias Ekström, who finished second and third in the qualification race and set the pace in the opening stages of the main race, played a decisive role in the outcome. While Abt, who was initially leading the race, dropped out of the points-scoring positions because of problems during the pit stop, Ekström had a perfect stop performed by his crew during the mandatory tyre change, allowing him to get back on the track with a comforting margin over his main rivals. After an error-free drive, the 24-year old Swede celebrated his maiden DTM victory, thus achieving his self-set goal for the season and helping his team-mate Laurent Aiello to secure the title early. In the event of a victory by Mercedes-driver Bernd Schneider, who finished second behind Ekström, the title race would only have been decided at the final in Hockenheim next Sunday.

Martin Tomczyk and Karl Wendlinger had bad luck, being involved in a collision at the first corner of the main race already and dropped back after coming into the pits for repair. But the youngest DTM-driver and the former F1-driver can also be proud of the excellent performance of the Team Abt Sportsline in the DTM 2002: five victories, six wins in the qualification race and twelve fastest race laps are on the record of the worldwide leading tuning company for cars from the Volkswagen concern, that has once more proven its competence at the race track by winning the DTM-title.

Quotes after the race

Laurent Aiello (did not start / 6th place):

"Today, all my thanks go to my team-mates, who helped me win the title. It was really hard having to watch during the qualification race. It was all the better to see how Christian and Mattias were fighting for me. I am proud to be a member of the Abt family and to be able to celebrate the championship with this team. I dedicate this title to my late grandfather. He has bought me my first go-kart and without him, I certainly wouldn't be where I am today."

Mattias Ekström (3rd place / 1st place):

"Before the season, my goal was a top five position in the championship and at least one victory -- today, I have achieved that goal. It is even better that I could help Laurent win the title with my victory. Today, it was the best race of my life."

Karl Wendlinger (9th place / 19th place):

"After the qualification race, I though that I could make up some more places. Unfortunately, I had to have my car repaired in the pits following a collision right after the start and thus lost a lot of places. But today, the most important thing is that Laurent has won the title. Being part of this team is a great feeling."

Christian Abt (2nd place / 7th place):

"Today, a dream has come true for me: we really are DTM-champion. We have been working hard for three years and finally, we have been rewarded with the title. Had my pit stop been better, I could have helped Laurent even more. But I am not blaming anyone: we are losing together and we are winning together -- that is, what makes Abt Sportsline stand out and makes it so strong."

Martin Tomczyk (11th place / 18th place):

"Today, I don't care about my own result. The only important thing is that we have made our dream about the championship come true. I am certain that I could have been much further up today when I wouldn't have been involved in the turmoil right at the start."

Hans-Jürgen Abt (team principal):

"This is the best moment of my motorsport career. Today, I thank all the drivers, mechanics and partners who have enabled this success. Especially this week-end, we have seen all highs and lows of the past three years at once. But our team has shown character, has fully motivated itself and has given everything for the title success here at Zandvoort."

-abtsportsline-

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About this article
Series DTM
Drivers Karl Wendlinger , Laurent Aiello , Martin Tomczyk , Christian Abt , Mattias Ekström , Hans-Jurgen Abt