Abt Sportsline wants to defend its lead in Zolder Abt Sportsline is travelling to the second round of the DTM (Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters) in Zolder in quite an unusual situation: for the first time, the team from the AllgÃ¤u is in the role of...
Abt Sportsline wants to defend its lead in Zolder
Abt Sportsline is travelling to the second round of the DTM (Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters) in Zolder in quite an unusual situation: for the first time, the team from the Allgäu is in the role of the hunted. Following the sensational double victory in the season opener, Laurent Aiello and Mattias Ekström are leading the championship. The goal for the guest appearance in Belgium is clear: "Even when it is still a little unusual, we are feeling well at the top. And of course, we want to defend our lead", says team principal Hans-Jürgen Abt.
In order to achieve this ambitious goal, the team concentrated on preparations for Zolder after the well-deserved victory party: in the workshop in Kempten, the five Abt-Audi TT-Rs were taken apart, every single part was thoroughly checked and prepared for the next effort. "In Hockenheim, we already had a car that was sorted very well, so that we only had to work on details", says Hans-Jürgen Abt. "In Hockenheim, we had an absolute dream start. Now, we want to show that this victory was not a co-incidence."
Obviously, the focus in Zolder initially is on the two test sessions on Friday, in which drivers and engineers have to find the right set-up for qualifying and the race as quickly as possible. In the old DTM, Zolder was the venue of the opening round on many occasions, but now, the new DTM is racing for the first time at the traditional track. "Zolder is a very demanding track", says new signing Karl Wendlinger, who had a great debut with his third place a fortnight ago. At the occasion of a press conference last week, the Austrian got a first impression of the track. "Braking for corners is really important here, as this is the best opportunity to overtake on the narrow track", he said after a few laps with an Audi RS4.
The drivers and the team have done their homework. "For the first standing start with a DTM car, things went really well in Hockenheim", says Laurent Aiello. "But I want to become even better here." Abt Sportsline's pit crew has also set itself higher goals. Although the team from Kempten completed the quickest tyre change of all the teams in the opening round, but with a time of seven seconds, they stayed well under their personal best time. "I am sure that Mercedes and Opel will attack in Zolder - therefore we have to increase our effort once more", says Hans-Jürgen Abt before the week-end. Quotes before the race
Christian Abt (#10):
"I really like the track in Zolder, because I have driven many good races there already. It is a drivers' track, for which you have to find a really good set-up. After the season opener, we have taken our cars apart once more and refined all the details we didn't have the chance to work on before Hockenheim. In any case, I want to challenge for victory."
Laurent Aiello (#3):
"Initially, I really enjoyed my victory and spent last week with jet-skiing and jogging on the beach in the south of France. In Zolder, I want to defend my championship lead. It has been a long time since I was in Zolder, but I think, the track will suit our car. The surface is very slippery, furthermore it is the first time we are there with the new DTM. So it is important to find the best possible set-up as quickly as possible on Friday. This season, with five cars, it is even a little more easier for us than last year."
Mattias Ekström (#9):
"I have never driven in Zolder, but I don't think that that is a big disadvantage. I am sure that our TT-R can race among the front-runners at all the tracks on the DTM-calendar. Like in Hockenheim, I will work in a determined way with my engineer for qualifying and the race and I hope that I can repeat my second place. In fact, I would even more like to be a little bit better."
Martin Tomczyk (#23):
"Before we set off, we will be practicing starts and pit stops in Kempten once more. At the start, the right level of accelerator and clutch pedal is crucial - and that really is a matter of practice. There is not much I can say about the track, I only drove my maiden Formula 3-race there. But following my victory in the qualification race in Hockenheim, I know what I am up to. And obviously, this is what I want to do again."
Karl Wendlinger (#4):
"The track in Zolder just has it all: fast and slow corners, fast and slow chicanes and a blind hill on the straight. Moreover, there are many opportunities to overtake. I am certain, that next week, we will get to see a race that is at least as exciting a the one in Hockenheim."