Hockenheimring: Round one preview

Preview 1st Run DTM, Hockenheimring, 16th-18th April 2004 Thrillingly awaited: DTM-opening race in Hockenheim Finally - this coming weekend the DTM launches into its new, thrillingly awaited season on the Hockenheimring Baden-Württemberg. From...

Preview 1st Run DTM, Hockenheimring, 16th-18th April 2004
Thrillingly awaited: DTM-opening race in Hockenheim

Finally - this coming weekend the DTM launches into its new, thrillingly awaited season on the Hockenheimring Baden-Württemberg. From 16th to 18th April, the 4.574 kilometre traditional racecourse will host the season's opening. 21 high-carat racing drivers mark the opening field of Europe's most popular touring car series.

The DTM thus offers an exciting mixture of successful top pilots boasting several international champion titles and battle-eager young stars with great references from new talent series or the DTM itself. 16 racecars have been entirely newly developed. The return of Audi's factory backing brings six Audi A4 DTM to the starting line, who will compete with six Opel Vectra GTS V8 and four AMG-Mercedes C-Klasse. Four drivers Five drivers will compete in DTM-cars from the previous year.

The race will start on 18th April at 2pm and will carry on over 37 rounds and 169.238 kilometres. The record-breaking advance booking ticket sales of 45,000 tickets go to prove the continually rising attractiveness of the DTM, the audience of which had already risen by 16.5 per cent in 2003 compared with the previous year, having especially reached record-breaking figures at the traditional tracks.

Frentzen: "My fingers have been itching"

"My fingers have been itching throughout the past weeks", says Opel new entry from Formula 1, Heinz-Harald Frentzen. "Formula 1 has already been driving since the beginning of March. Now I'm very excited about my first DTM race and the duels with my driving colleagues."

Brand colleague Marcel Fässler from Switzerland says: "I can hardly wait for it to begin again. I have missed fighting for every position in front of the fans." Opel Head of Sports Volker Strycek is proud: "We are starting into this season with what's probably the strongest driving squad in Opel's motor sports history."

After record-breaking times during testing, Strycek tries to put thus evoked high expectations into perspective: "Every manufacturer drove a different programme, thus the true balance of power will be unveiled in Hockenheim. But we wish for the season to be as thrilling as the test have implied for it to become."

Schneider: "2004 will surely be the most contested DTM season"

"For me it's always special to drive in Hockenheim," says Bernd Schneider. "The atmosphere at the Mercedes stand and in the Motodrom is fantastic. The advance booking sales record shows, how the fans appreciate DTM." The current champion is convinced: "This will be the most contested DTM season ever - and I hope I can repeat my success of the previous year."

Mercedes-Benz Head of Sports Norbert Haug says: "The test drives in Estoril and Brünn indicate a balance between the contestants. On a dry track, the key to victory in Hockenheim will be to make the best use of the standard Dunlop tyres. Anyone wasting only half a second at the pit stop is at risk of losing the whole race. Thus the whole team will be challengend when it comes to the task of finally being on top."

An especially motivated driver is Markus Winkelhock, one of the pilots in last year's CLKs: "After three years in Formula 3, I am greatly looking forward to my first DTM race. Apart from that, driving in Hockenheim is always a challenge, being in front of such an enthusiastic audience."

Biela: "Back to DTM at last!"

Frank Biela, 1991 DTM champion is also greatly looking forward to Hockenheim: "At last, I am getting what I've wanted back for so long: DTM", Biela says, who won Le Mans three times in an Audi R8 sports car, conveying his feelings about Audi's factory-side engagement. All of us are tensely awaiting season opening in Hockenheim, because then we will know where we stand. Test drives went well and just as planned. In Audi's team, all are fully motivated and looking forward to the first race."

Biela's brand colleague Christian Abt, who is driving into his fifth DTM season, is very happy: "During testing days in Brno, I simulated two complete racing weekends on just one day, driving a total 110 rounds in an A4. This made my appetite for the DTM season even bigger. I trained hard in the winter, and Audi built a great car. Preparation could not have been better."

Audi Motorsporting Director Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich says: "After an intensive time of preparation, we are looking forward to the season's start. We are certain that Hockenheim will be a great event. We are expecting a full house, and, accordingly, many enthusiastic Audi fans. Our aim is to deliver a good start into DTM. Test drives before season opening showed that all three brands are in very similar level. DTM fans have good reason to expect very thrilling races."


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Series DTM
Drivers Heinz-Harald Frentzen , Frank Biela , Bernd Schneider , Norbert Haug , Christian Abt , Volker Strycek , Markus Winkelhock