8th round DTM A1-Ring (A), September 5-7, 2003 Looking forward to the A1-Ring -- memories of DTM-thriller 2002 With the eighth round at the A1-Ring in Spielberg, Austria from September 5 till 7, the DTM is heading on to the final straight of the...
8th round DTM A1-Ring (A), September 5-7, 2003
Looking forward to the A1-Ring -- memories of DTM-thriller 2002
With the eighth round at the A1-Ring in Spielberg, Austria from September 5 till 7, the DTM is heading on to the final straight of the season, because after this round, it is only Zandvoort and the season final at Hockenheim that are on. The DTM-teams like coming to the Austrian province of Styria. The circuit is always good for exciting racing, but last year's event really topped everything seen before.
"It was incredible, exciting, a real thriller", former F1-star Jean Alesi says on behalf of all the others. This time round, the situation in the championship is more open than ever before. In 2002, Aiello could have won an early title in Austria while this year, there are still four drivers with chances of lifting the crown.
Bernd Schneider is leading by one point from Christijan Albers and is eleven points ahead of Marcel Fässler (all Mercedes-Benz). With his win at the Nürburgring, champion Laurent Aiello (Abt-Audi) moved up to fourth in the championship standings, he is separated from Schneider by only 17 points. His bad luck in the race in the Eifel made Peter Dumbreck (Opel) lose fourth place.
Home race for Wendlinger and Austrian-based Reuter and Scheider
Three DTM-drivers are considering the round at the A1-Ring as their home race: Abt-Audi's former F1-driver Karl Wendlinger, born in the Tyrol, as well as the two Opel-drivers Manuel Reuter and Timo Scheider. "I always like coming to my home country, I am happy to visit my family and meet old friends," says Wendlinger. "Unfortunately, my season hasn't been particularly good so far and I will do everything to score a good result at my home track. Driving a car from last year, I can't take on the top drivers out in front, but I am optimistic and highly motivated."
Former ITC-champion Manuel Reuter, who has been living in Saalfelden for six years already, thinks that "from the landscape, there is no more beautiful race track" than the A1-Ring. "The atmosphere with the location in the mountains, the cows and the nice old hotels is just unique." Reuter is considering the track itself as "one of the most difficult of all. Finding the balance is most difficult because of the mix of high-speed sections, long straights and the second part, where you need a lot of wing."
Schneider: "We won't have any team orders, everyone is driving for himself"
"Probably, the race won't be as crazy as last year," Bernd Schneider is convinced. "There are three Mercedes-drivers in front, so there will be no team orders. Everyone is driving for himself." The fact that Christijan Albers is close behind doesn't worry him: "I happily accept this challenge."
Mercedes-Benz motorsport director Norbert Haug judges: "With three races to go, the championship remains open and can still be won by at least four drivers. Bernd Schneider, Christijan Albers, Marcel Fässler and Laurent Aiello are all within 17 points. How levelled and close the DTM is became clear during the most recent race at the Nürburgring."
Abt's team-principal Hans-Jürgen Abt says: "We have been working hard all year to make it to the front. Our victory at the Nürburgring made us discover again how good winning actually is. Therefore, we only have one goal for the A1-Ring-round: we want to make life for Mercedes as difficult as possible. Maybe, the lay-out of the fast track doesn't suit us quite as well as the Nürburgring, but every mechanic and every driver is highly motivated. We won't give up our title without a decent battle."
The third one of the sporting directors, Opel's motorsport principal Volker Strycek, is confident before the weekend in Styria: "I have faith in my team", says Strycek. "During the race at the Nürburgring, Peter Dumbreck set the fastest race lap. Partly, he was half a second faster than the rest of the field. And last year, we already did quite well at the A1-Ring. Our goal is clear: we want to make it on the podium." Peter Dumbreck is confident: "There are good possibilities to overtake on the top speed sections of the A1-Ring. It will once again be an interesting race."