DTM season opener Hockenheimring Baden-WÃ¼rttemberg, April 25-27, 2003 The waiting comes to an end: from April 25 till 27, the Hockenheimring Baden-WÃ¼rttemberg is the venue of the season opener of the DTM. After the development and testing work...
DTM season opener Hockenheimring Baden-Württemberg, April 25-27, 2003
The waiting comes to an end: from April 25 till 27, the Hockenheimring Baden-Württemberg is the venue of the season opener of the DTM. After the development and testing work of the past few months, the 21 drivers of Abt-Audi, Mercedes-Benz and Opel will be facing each other at the 4.574 kilometres long Grand Prix-track of the Motodrom in the German province of Baden. The spectacular changes in the sporting regulations promise even more excitement than before. With the new race format, the race distance this year is 169.238 kilometres with 37 laps instead of last year's 23. The action in the DTM is spiced up even further with two mandatory pit stops. For the first time, there will also be refuelling.
Laurent Aiello: "Our position compared to the others is uncertain till Saturday"
Reigning DTM-champion Laurent Aiello (Abt-Audi TT-R) has fond memories of the Hockenheimring, where he surprisingly won the season opener last year -- his first step on the way to the title. "For this race weekend, I am very optimistic on one hand," the Frenchman says, "because we know, that we have prepared for the new season very well. This applies to both the team and the developed Abt-Audi, as well as to us as drivers. We have done everything to be able to defend our title. But before the season, you never know where you are compared to the other drivers. This remains an uncertain factor until the Super Pole on Saturday."
Manuel Reuter: "The Super Pole will be a balance act"
Opel-driver Manuel Reuter knows about the demands and uncertainties of the qualification, that has a new format. Following a timed practice for all drivers, the ten fastest drivers will be taking part in the so-called "Super Pole", the single-lap qualification for the first ten places on the grid and pole position. "Super Pole will be a balance act. Either you take 100 percent risk and you are up the front, when everything goes well. Or you reduce the risk and you find yourself on the first two, three rows. But first of all you have to qualify for the Super Pole which will not be easy in this very strong field."
Concerning the chances of Opel, the 1996 ITC champion is confident: "During the winter, a lot of things have changed at Opel. Therefore, I believe that we will be winning races again this year, and that is the goal. But the others haven't been sleeping either, so it means that it certainly won't be easy."
Bernd Schneider: "I am confident that I can be competing for victory"
Three times DTM-champion Bernd Schneider (Mercedes-Benz CLK-DTM) likes coming to the Hockenheimring -- born in the Saarland, he is considering it as his home track. Moreover, he won last year's season final during the DTM-debut at the new Grand Prix-circuit. "I am confident that we will be able to compete for victory. Even more so because the track seems to suit me, like the 2002 final has shown. Moreover, I hope for special support from the fans on the big Mercedes grand stand."
The 38-year old is certain that the new rules will be a huge success: "The Motodrom will be cooking when we are fighting for one hour and 37 laps. With two pit stops, team strategy will be more important than ever. Spectators at the grand stands and in front of the TV-screens can eat their heart out."