Abt Sportsline is the hunter before DTM round in Italy The first guest appearance of the new DTM (Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters) in Italy is being considered as a highlight on the 2003 calendar of Europe's premier touring car series. The Abt ...
Abt Sportsline is the hunter before DTM round in Italy
The first guest appearance of the new DTM (Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters) in Italy is being considered as a highlight on the 2003 calendar of Europe's premier touring car series. The Abt drivers, spearheaded by champion Laurent Aiello, have clearly defined their goals for next weekend's race at the Adria International Raceway: they want to achieve a revenge for the double victory by Mercedes at Hockenheim and challenge for victory at the border of the Adriatic Sea.
For the first time in over a year, the Abt team is playing the role of the hunter again. In April 2002, Laurent Aiello had decided the opening round in his favour and never lost the championship lead for the duration of the season anymore, the situation is now different following the victory by Mercedes-driver Bernd Schneider and third place for champion Aiello. "This is a role we can live with very well", team director Hans-Jürgen Abt explains. "We will put the pressure on."
During a test session, some of the Abt drivers already got acquainted with the new Adria International Raceway, located some 70 kilometres south of Venice. At 2.702 kilometres, it is the second shortest track on the calendar, almost entirely made up of narrow corners and hairpins. There are no longer straights for the drivers to relax, so that the 47 laps in the mild Italian climate will prove to be a hard test for drivers and cars alike.
The team director remains calm: "That doesn't worry me in the least. Our car is reliable in all conditions and our drivers have been preparing themselves very well, both individually and during a fitness week with the entire team."
Because of the limited opportunities for overtaking, the timed practice and the subsequent super pole are especially important -- a discipline that is fairly well known to the Abt drivers. At the debut of the new qualifying system at Hockenheim, five Abt-Audi TT-Rs made it into the top ten and thus were allowed to participate in the all-important single-lap qualifying. "This strong team performance made me very happy, as it showed that we have prepared a car during the winter with which all of our drivers are able to do well," Abt says.
Coming to Italy, Laurent Aiello is third in the championship standings, his Swedish team mate Mattias Ekström is eighth in the championship after the season opener.
Quotes before the race
Laurent Aiello (#1):
"I have never driven at the Adria circuit. But I have heard that the track is even narrower than at Oschersleben. I like that, because tracks on which it comes down to the driver, generally suit me. Of course, our fitness is even more important there. But that's no problem to me, at Hockenheim, I could have done another 20 laps as well. My goal definitely is a podium finish, and maybe a little revenge for the season opener at Hockenheim."
Christian Abt (#2):
"I am looking forward to the race at the Adria, because I have fond memories of Italy: during the last race there, in 1999 with the STW at Misano, I had a great fight with Uwe Alzen, I overtook him on the final lap and then went on to win. So far, that was my last victory in touring cars, so it is about time to end that series."
Mattias Ekström (#5):
"I had different expectations about my start of this season. Therefore, I can hardly wait for the next race, in order to further increase my points score -- for sure, the single point I scored at Hockenheim is feeling very lonely. For me, the Adria round is a premiere: I never raced in Italy before."
Karl Wendlinger (#6):
"My favourite tracks are looking different compared to the Adria Raceway, but I am sure that it will be a hot racing weekend. The cars will be very close together and moreover, there are little opportunities for overtaking. It is all the more important making it into the super pole and trying to reach the best possible grid position."
Martin Tomczyk (#14):
"I am looking forward to Italy, albeit more to the climate and the atmosphere. After all, narrow tracks like the Adria Raceway don't suit me in particular. But I will try to make the best use of the two test sessions on Friday to get to grips with the track. And who knows, maybe I can surprise myself and get things to run as well as during the season opener at Hockenheim."
Peter Terting (#15):
"At the Adria, I did my first official test as a DTM-driver, so it is one of the few tracks that I got to know with my TT-R. As there are no fast corners, braking and accelerating are particularly important, but just these are the most difficult things with a DTM-car. Spectators can surely look forward to a great show with many outbraking manoeuvres before the hairpins."