Hockenheim: Round ten preview

DTM-final Hockenheimring Baden-Württemberg, October 4-6, 2002 "The final will be gigantic"-- a race without tactics after title decision The title race has been decided -- now more than ever, there will be racing without team tactics. This...

DTM-final Hockenheimring Baden-Württemberg, October 4-6, 2002

"The final will be gigantic"-- a race without tactics after title decision

The title race has been decided -- now more than ever, there will be racing without team tactics. This sums up the mood of the DTM-drivers before the final round of the DTM 2002 at the' Hockenheimring Baden-Württemberg'. Therefore, the organiser expects a massive crowd and a great atmosphere for the tenth and final round of the year, as some 30,000 tickets have already been pre-sold. For the DTM, the reconstructed Hockenheimring, that is now 4.489 kilometres long, is a new venue-- the 2001 final still took place at the legendary long track, the 2002 season opener was held at the short circuit.

Only one week before the final, Frenchman Laurent Aiello secured himself the championship title early with his Abt-Audi TT-R in an exciting race at Zandvoort in The Netherlands. At the final, Bernd Schneider (Mercedes-Benz CLK-DTM, 52 points) and Aiello's Abt-Audi team-mate Mattias Ekström (43 points) are competing for the runner-up position. There are still 13 points at stake.

Ex-champion Bernd Schneider: "Title gone, motivation unaffected"

The defeated champion Bernd Schneider is showing a competitive spirit: "Once again congratulations to Laurent, who together with his Audi was unbeatable this year. But my motivation is unaffected and I will do everything to secure the runner-up title at the final." Moreover, the three times' DTM champion is convinced that "second place in such a hard-fought championship is still a reason to be happy and to be proud of one's team."

Apart from Schneider, another Mercedes-driver is "highly motivated" for the final: Bernd Mayländer. "Firstly, I won here last year, and secondly, I have the lap record on the long track, that nobody can take from me anymore now that the track has been reconstructed..." Other than his DTM-colleagues, the Swabian from Schorndorf near Stuttgart already knows the new track lay-out-- Mayländer is driving the safety car in Formula 1. "Of course, I hope to have a little advantage in this way," he says, "and I am also looking forward to the many fans that will be coming to my home round."

Joachim Winkelhock: "Racing in front of home crowd is something special"

Joachim Winkelhock lives in Korb, within a stone's throw from Schorndorf. "It is always something special to be cheered by the fans from the "Ländle", I am really looking forward to it," the Opel works-driver says. "The new track will be a surprise. It looked good on television. And although the title race has been decided, we will have a massive crowd, that will be gigantic."

Winkelhock's team-mate Manuel Reuter believes "that after the reconstruction, Hockenheim is a sympathetic track. Probably, the kerbstones are too low for touring cars, so there will be some cutting of corners. We will have to wait and see if the action is better." The 1996 ITC-champion, who just missed out on a podium finish with his Opel Astra V8 Coupé at Zandvoort, knows: "In Hockenheim, anything can happen for us, as my car has been very good recently. Unfortunately, I missed the start in Holland and thus prevented a better position."

Champion Laurent Aiello: "Totally happy after three years of hard work"

The new DTM-champion Laurent Aiello wants to serve the team at the final. "At the moment, I am just totally happy," the Frenchman says. "After three years of hard work and some setbacks, the relief and the joy after such a success is enormous. My team-mates have helped me throughout the year. When I now have the possibility to give something of it back and help Mattias in his fight for second place in the championship, I will not hesitate."

The Swede, only 24 years old, is nine points behind Bernd Schneider following his maiden DTM-victory at Zandvoort. "In fact, my goal for the season was a place among the top five and a win", Ekström says. "Claiming runner-up sport now would be the greatest thing." But also for the five drivers of the Abt-team, tactics should not be playing the main role. "They can all drive for themselves. We want to provide the fans with a great show, the rest will come by itself," says team principal Hans-Jürgen Abt.

Action-packed show programme: SWR3 DanceNight & further great action

The SWR3 DanceNight on Saturday evening promises a special atmosphere. There will be party on October 5 from 18.00 h until midnight on the roof of the pit building, right in the middle of the Motodrom in Hockenheim. SWR3-professional Michael Spleth will be the show host. Further highlights of the DanceNight include performances by the artists of the Europa Park Rust, and of course, DTM racing drivers will be there as well.

At the event, tickets will be sold at 5 Euros. Anyone with a DTM ticket for Saturday, Sunday or for the week-end will get in for free. SWR3 club members pay 4.50 Euros. On Sunday, acrobats of a motorcycle free-style show and parachute jumpers will provide breath-taking action during the lunch break. And finally, the gates of the grand stands will be opened after the DTM-race on Sunday, so that the fans will be able to watch the final prize-giving ceremony of the season from the race track.


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Series DTM
Drivers Laurent Aiello , Bernd Schneider , Joachim Winkelhock , Bernd Maylander , Manuel Reuter , Mattias Ekström , Hans-Jurgen Abt