Abt Sportsline leads the DTM into the second half of the season For the drivers of the DTM (Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters), the second half of the 2002 season starts with a round at the EuroSpeedway. The Team Abt Sportsline couldn't have hoped...
Abt Sportsline leads the DTM into the second half of the season
For the drivers of the DTM (Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters), the second half of the 2002 season starts with a round at the EuroSpeedway. The Team Abt Sportsline couldn't have hoped for a better first half: Laurent Aiello won four out of five races and leads the championship in a dominant way. Between them, Christian Abt and Mattias Ekström collected another five trophies and completed the dream start of the team with second and fifth place in the championship.
For one of the five Abt drivers, the round in the Lausitz-region has a very special note: on race day, Mattias Ekström will be celebrating his 24th birthday. The quick Swede has fond memories of the EuroSpeedway, as he claimed the first podium place of his DTM-career at the same venue barely one year ago. No surprise that he just shows his trademark smile when being asked what his favourite birthday present would be...
Meanwhile, the team from the Allgäu can't expect any presents during the sixth round of the season. After his fourth victory from five rounds, Laurent Aiello is the most sought-after driver in the DTM. Therefore, the quick Frenchman is by no means taking it easy: at the Norisring, in one of the strongest races of his career, Aiello overtook champion Bernd Schneider on the final lap and then drove victory home. "Of course, I don't have to win every race anymore -- but winning is just addictive."
"Staying cool and just think about the next race", is the motto issued by team principal Hans-Jürgen Abt for his team. Of course, the entire Allgäu-region is already dreaming about the 2002 DTM title for the local heroes from Kempten. "Obviously, everybody can dream, but we are responsible for the performance on the track, and therefore, everybody has to do their job for 100 percent", says Abt. "After all, we have been seeing for weeks in the recent football world cup that many things can still happen in the second half time..."
Before the EuroSpeedway-round, Laurent Aiello is leading the championship with 48 points from his team-mate Mattias Ekström (23), defending champion Bernd Schneider (21) and former F1-star Jean Alesi (20). In the teams' classification, Abt Sportsline is also in first position from the best-placed Mercedes-team.
Quotes before the race
Christian Abt (#10):
"I am looking forward to the EuroSpeedway. Last year, I was on course for a podium finish there until the stewards called me in, because our car was on its wheels on the starting grid too late... We have to try again to find the right compromise for the combination of top-speed straights and fast and semi-fast corners. One thing is certain: in the Lausitz, you can only win when you get the set-up right 100 percent."
Laurent Aiello (#3):
"Before the Norisring, I said that from now on, I didn't have to win every race anymore. But after the great fight with Bernd Schneider, I noticed once again that winning can be really addictive. I am looking forward to the EuroSpeedway. Our car should work well there and we, as drivers, still have a job to do from last year..."
Mattias Ekström (#9):
"A race on my birthday is quite something special, although I don't believe that anyone will give me any presents at the track, no matter how small. We will be working focussed as ever and try not to make any mistakes. The party only starts after the race -- and I hope for more than one reason."
Martin Tomczyk (#23):
"I really like the track lay-out in the Lausitz. Last year, we have already seen that our car is quite good there. The EuroSpeedway has many fast corners that really suit me. After my accident at the Norisring, my shoulder is all right again, the only thing that remains is a bruise."
Karl Wendlinger (#4):
"I have been racing there in the past two years and I like the track. I especially like the combination of oval and infield because the infield is really demanding, contrarily to many American race tracks."