DTM

A1-Ring: Abt Sportsline preview

Abt victory at the Nürburgring causes appetite for more They have broken their duck: the first victory of champion Laurent Aiello at the Nürburgring round marked the impressive recovery of Abt Sportsline in the DTM. With his dominant win,...

Abt victory at the Nürburgring causes appetite for more

They have broken their duck: the first victory of champion Laurent Aiello at the Nürburgring round marked the impressive recovery of Abt Sportsline in the DTM. With his dominant win, Aiello promoted himself into fourth place of the championship standings and thus still has the chance of a successful title defence. For the A1-Ring, the Abt team has plenty of ambitions, not least, because Aiello's team-mate Karl Wendlinger has its home race there.

With its eighth round, the DTM is heading onto the final straight of the 2003 season this weekend. The second half of the season is marked by the recovery of the championship-winning team Abt Sportsline: following Mattias Ekström's third place at Donington, champion Laurent Aiello claimed his first victory in the seventh round and is now one of the contenders for the title again.

"Of course, a successful title defence will be difficult. But that is not what we are thinking about: we want to provide a good show for our fans and all the spectators and we want to challenge our Mercedes-colleagues up to the final chequered flag", team principal Hans-Jürgen Abt says.

Last year at the A1-Ring, the DTM had one of the most exciting races of its long history: Laurent Aiello already had the first "match ball" to win the title and during the turbulent 22 laps, he was on course towards the title a couple of times. Only on the final corner, all championship contenders became involved in troubles, the decision was postponed. "That was one of the most difficult moments as a team principal", Abt recalls. "But I hope that it will be equally exciting this time."

The 4.326 kilometres long track in Spielberg, where the DTM-drivers have the longest race of the season with over 170 kilometres, is being considered as one of the fastest circuits on the calendar. As the best-placed Abt driver, Laurent Aiello is fourth in the drivers' standings, Mattias Ekström is tied in fifth place with former F1-star Jean Alesi.

Quotes before the race

Laurent Aiello (Abt-Audi TT-R #1):

"Even though I am 17 points down in the championship: I will defend my title until the last lap and try to make life as difficult as possible for the Mercedes guys. Last year, the race at the A1-Ring was the most important one of the year -- the race is something special for me just because of that. I will not think about the points' standings, but rather attack with maximum power and provide a great show for the fans."

Christian Abt (Abt-Audi TT-R #2):

"I am relieved that all our efforts of testing and development during the summer break have finally paid off at the Nürburgring. This was a real boost for the entire team, because everybody has noticed that Abt Sportsline is back again. We will keep this motivation and this team spirit up until the final -- our fans have quite something to look forward to."

Mattias Ekström (Abt-Audi TT-R #5):

"Last year, the A1-Ring was the venue of a great battle. I think that it will be more difficult for us this year to be among the front runners. But I still have unfinished business: with some more luck I could have won the last two races at Donington and at the Nürburgring. I will fight to end this streak of bad luck in Austria."

Karl Wendlinger (Abt-Audi TT-R #6):

"Of course, the home round is the highlight of the season for me. But it will be difficult: especially with a car from last year, everything has to be one hundred percent spot on to score some points. I can promise all fans: car, team and driver are perfectly prepared, we are ready for the A1-Ring. My goal is clear: I want to make it into Super-Pole, as I have already done three times, and then attack."

Martin Tomczyk (Abt-Audi TT-R #14):

"Especially on the long straights, where you need good top speed, it will surely be difficult for us at the A1-Ring. But nevertheless, I am certain that we will at least be contending for a podium finish. Last year, the weekend was excellent for me, apart from a slight technical problem during the race. For me, coming from Rosenheim, the race in Styria is almost a home race, to which I am looking forward very much."

Peter Terting (Abt-Audi TT-R #15):

"I have spent a few days in Denmark together with the First Choice Racing-team. Watching the guys work was very interesting and I have also learnt a lot concerning the technology. The A1-Ring should suit me: there are many fast and fluent sections there. Moreover, I have good memories: in 2002, I have won the race in the ADAC VW Lupo Cup there."

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