Hockenheim: Abt Sportsline preview

DTM champion Abt Sportsline has new goals coming to the final With Laurent Aiello having wrapped up the title in the DTM (Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters) at Zandvoort last week-end, the ambitions of the Team Abt Sportsline from Kempten remain ...

DTM champion Abt Sportsline has new goals coming to the final

With Laurent Aiello having wrapped up the title in the DTM (Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters) at Zandvoort last week-end, the ambitions of the Team Abt Sportsline from Kempten remain upright before the season final in Hockenheim: the fight for runner-up has not yet been decided. And with Mattias Ekström, who celebrated his maiden DTM-victory at Zandvoort, Abt Sportsline can do the double and can bring next to the DTM-title also the runner-up position to the Allgäu.

"We are the champions and his name is Laurent," reads a billboard of 50 square meters on Abt's new building at the Daimlerstrasse, clearly showing what is the talk of the town in Kempten these days. Faxes, letters and e-mails from all over the world are arriving in boxes at Abt Sportsline, congratulating with the biggest success in the history of the family-owned company from the Allgäu. For the team of engineers and mechanics, there is little time for celebration, as the final of a great DTM-season is awaiting at the week end.

After last week-end's race, all mechanics and engineers of the 2002 championship-winning team remained in Zandvoort in order to prepare the five Abt-Audi TT-R for the season final there and then travel directly to Hockenheim. "The road from Holland to Kempten is long. If we would have had bigger repairs, time would not have been enough with all the driving back and forth. Therefore, we decided to play it safely and we stayed in Zandvoort," chief technician Albert Deuring explains the schedule of the crew with over 50 members.

Spectators in Hockenheim will not get to see a show run by the new DTM-champion, because after winning the drivers' title, Abt Sportsline has new goals: Mattias Ekström is nine points down on the now-defeated defending champion Bernd Schneider from Mercedes, with a total of 13 points still at stake during the final in Hockenheim. Therefore, the only 24 year old Swede still has a realistic chance of becoming runner-up in the DTM.

And there is another coveted trophy to be won in Hockenheim. "The team of Christian and Laurent is currently leading the teams' classification, of course, we want to clinch that title, too. On the other hand, it would be great to have runner-up with Mattias as well," team boss Hans-Jürgen Abt explains the situation. Two goals that are contrarily to each other. Therefore, Abt doesn't plan too much strategy: "All our drivers can race freely, so maximum attack for all five of them. We want to provide a great show for the fans, the rest will come by itself."

Quotes before the race

Christian Abt (#10):

"This week, the whole town of Kempten has been one big party. And even if I think that we can hardly raise the joy, it would still be great if we can extend the party a little with another victory in Hockenheim. But first and foremost, we want to stage a great show again for the spectators and especially for the many Abt fans. They have really deserved it for supporting us this year."

Laurent Aiello (#3):

"At the moment, I am just totally happy. When you have been working hard for three years and having to deal with setbacks as well, the relief and the joy after such a success is enormous. My team mates have been helping me in an incredible way throughout the season. In Hockenheim, I will try to give them a little bit back and do everything to help Mattias to become runner-up or the team to claim the teams' title. Maybe, we will even succeed in achieving both, to round off this fantastic year."

Mattias Ekström (#9):

"In fact, my goal for the season was a top five position and one victory. But for runner-up, I would also be prepared to give up my goals and take another trophy home. Hopefully, come the week end, I have recovered again from all the celebrations, so that I can attack fully..."

Martin Tomczyk (#23):

"At the start of the season, I have set myself the target of one podium finish. Now, it looks like I still only have one week-end left to make this wish come true. Therefore, for me, the final is everything but a relaxed way to end the season: I will be working totally focussed from the first test session on and try to use my chance in the race."

Karl Wendlinger (#4):

"At the new version of the Hockenheimring, we are all starting from scratch, so the important thing will be getting used to the track as quickly as possible. I think that there are many opportunities for overtaking at the new hairpin and at some other places, so that we will get to see an exciting final. I will do everything to go into the winter break with a good result and a few more points."


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Series DTM
Drivers Karl Wendlinger , Laurent Aiello , Martin Tomczyk , Bernd Schneider , Christian Abt , Mattias Ekström , Hans-Jurgen Abt