DTM

2002 Season preview

The DTM is gearing up: season presentation at a leisure park. Only two years after its comeback, the three letters DTM have become a synonym again for top-level motorsport with international appeal, for renowned driver names, fascinating race ...

The DTM is gearing up: season presentation at a leisure park.

Only two years after its comeback, the three letters DTM have become a synonym again for top-level motorsport with international appeal, for renowned driver names, fascinating race cars, interaction with the fans and family-friendliness. The DTM is organising four of its ten rounds in neighbouring countries, thus reacting to the great interest in these countries. Today, April 4, the DTM 2002 is starting into the new season with the presentation at the Europa-Park Rust. After a press conference, the focus is on the visitors of the park in the afternoon, with driving actions, interviews and an autograph session. Germany's largest leisure park is located 150 km south of the Hockenheimring, where the season opener takes place April 21.

The drivers of Abt-Audi, Mercedes-Benz and Opel will be competing for victory once more. "The DTM has established itself as a racing series at the highest level", says Opel motorsport director Volker Strycek. "It provides an excellent stage to show the competitive spirit, reliability and innovation of the Opel brand in front of a huge crowd." Team boss Hans-Jürgen Abt believes that "we are facing the toughest year of the DTM. When you are winning races, like we did, then the next goal is the championship title." Mercedes-Benz motorsport director Norbert Haug predicts: "The race series will be even more attractive in the new season, we are all expecting great races and excellent TV-coverage."

Live TV-coverage has been ensured with ARD and ZDF for the next five years. Both channels will alternately be covering the DTM in 2002 once again, the third channels are involved in coverage of the qualifying session.

Former F1-drivers Alesi and Wendlinger enrich the popular starting field

A strong field of internationally renowned drivers from eight different nations will be enriched in 2002 by the two former F1-drivers Jean Alesi and Karl Wendlinger. Austrian Wendlinger is racing for Abt Sportsline, alongside the two stalwarts Christian Abt (the 1999 STW champion) and multiple touring car champion Laurent Aiello (F). Moreover, youngsters Mattias Ekström (23) from Sweden and Martin Tomczyk (20) will be driving for Abt once more.

"I want to challenge Mercedes and Opel and race for the title", announces Aiello, who already celebrated two race wins in 2001. Team mate Christian Abt also has "his mind set on the title". Abt-novice Karl Wendlinger says: "In testing, I have already noticed how close things are in the DTM."

A spectacular model change at Mercedes-Benz: the new CLK production car and its DTM counterpart were simultaneously unveiled at the beginning of March. DTM-champion Bernd Schneider is "convinced, that competition in the DTM will be even closer this year than last year. I will do everything to defend my title." He already succeeded in doing so in 2001, as the first driver in DTM-history.

New signing Jean Alesi says:

"Second only to Formula 1, the DTM offers the best competition and for me, it is a new and exciting challenge", says the 37-year old Frenchman. "I want to race for wins and provide a good show for the fans." Alesi, Schneider, Uwe Alzen and Marcel Fässler (CH) will be driving a new Mercedes-Benz CLK-DTM for the HWA-team. CLK-DTMs from last year will be driven by Briton Peter Dumbreck and Thomas Jäger for the Persson-team, Patrick Huisman (NL) and Bernd Mayländer for the Manthey-team and for Rosberg the two youngsters Christijan Albers (NL), 22, and new signing Stefan Mücke (20) from Berlin.

Opel with proven driver line-up and new V8 Astra Coupé

For the new season, Opel relies on proven drivers, spearheaded by the 1996 ITC-champion, Manuel Reuter. "This is exactly what a touring car should be like", the 40-year old says. "A lot of power, rear wheel drive, spectacular looks. That is what I love as a driver and what the many DTM-fans want to see." Joachim Winkelhock (three championship titles), too, is looking forward to the new season: "There is nothing like driving in front of such a huge crowd as in the DTM." The two of them are driving for the Opel Team Phoenix.

Michael Bartels and Timo Scheider are building Opel Team Holzer's driver pairing: "We have a great team with a lot of good engineers and technicians. Testing has shown that they have done a good job", 23-year old Scheider says. Double British touring car champion Alain Menu (CH) and Yves Olivier (B) are driving for the Opel Euroteam. Opel motorsport director Strycek defines the season goal: "This year, we want to race among the front runners again and race with Audi and Mercedes for positions."

New for 2002 are the standing start, that is more spectacular and fairer than the flying start, and the points scheme for the main race (first to sixth place: 10, 6, 4, 3, 1), that everybody knows from Formula 1. In the qualification race, points are still given to the first three (3, 2, 1). The HANS-system (Head And Neck Support) has been made mandatory. It is intended to protect drivers even better in a crash.

-dtm-

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Series DTM
Drivers Jean Alesi , Karl Wendlinger , Laurent Aiello , Marcel Fassler , Peter Dumbreck , Martin Tomczyk , Bernd Schneider , Joachim Winkelhock , Bernd Maylander , Uwe Alzen , Manuel Reuter , Christijan Albers , Timo Scheider , Norbert Haug , Christian Abt , Mattias Ekström , Michael Bartels , Patrick Huisman , Thomas Jäger , Yves Olivier , Volker Strycek , Stefan Mücke , Hans-Jurgen Abt , Alain Menu