Norisring: Round five preview

Preview 5th round DTM Norisring, June 28-30, 2002 DTM week-end of superlatives - football and cars in the "German Monaco" "For teams, drivers and spectators, it is the event to be", judges Joachim Winkelhock, "unique", enthuses Christian Abt,...

Preview 5th round DTM Norisring, June 28-30, 2002

DTM week-end of superlatives - football and cars in the "German Monaco"

"For teams, drivers and spectators, it is the event to be", judges Joachim Winkelhock, "unique", enthuses Christian Abt, and Bernd Schneider says: "What Monaco is to Formula 1, this track is for us."

No doubt about it, we are talking about the Norisring in Nuremberg, which will be hosting the DTM for its fifth season round, June 28 till 30. The street course, only 2.3 kilometres short, is always good for exciting race action around the legendary "Steintribüne" and on the borders of the idyllic Dutzendteich lake. Laurent Aiello (Abt-Audi) is the points leader coming to Franken, followed by Jean Alesi (Mercedes-Benz) and Mattias Ekström (Abt-Audi).

Like always in the "German Monaco", the program apart from the race action is of a high level, too. Kim Wilde, the pop legend of the 1980s, will be presenting the new DTM-song "Born to be wild" on Sunday afternoon. And it surely will be a unique experience, when 100,000 spectators will be watching another great sport event together: on video walls with a size of up to 84 square metres, the final of the football world cup will be shown.

In spite of the football fever, the focus of the 21 DTM-drivers is on their own sport. Joachim Winkelhock can look back upon "nice personal successes". He has won here in 1992, 1997 and 2000, the last victory, with an Opel Astra V8 Coupé being his first win in his debut season for Opel. "I haven't got a clue why the track suits me so well", says the Swabian. "It looks so easy, but it has its own difficulties. Usually, experienced drivers are strong here, as a constant performance counts.

Everything has to be 100 percent, the track doesn't pardon the slightest mistake, it rather drops you back several positions." Fellow Opel-driver Manuel Reuter, the 1996 ITC-champion, knows: "The 44 laps of the race are like twice the distance, for the cars and the drivers alike. There is no time to take a breath." Reuter reckons that, at the Norisring, "the DTM will be heading into a new dimension: it will no longer be about tenths of a second, but rather about hundredths and thousandths."

Abt Sportsline from Kempten in the Allgäu region is considering the Norisring as its home track, also because it is close to Ingolstadt and the many expected Audi-fans. Even more so, as the latest Le Mans-winning Audi R8 will be driving some laps. "Nowhere else you are closer to the walls and closer to the fans", enthuses Christian Abt. "In fact, the long straights don't suit our Abt-Audi TT-R at all, but I will not worry about that, as a podium finish or maybe even a win in Nuremberg has always been my dream. I see every flag and every banner, and this gives me a few horsepower more."

Team mate and points leader Laurent Aiello wants to "concentrate 100 percent on the championship. After bad luck last year, I want to finish the race this time and score some points." Although Aiello is already certain of the title of "half-time champion", the Frenchman still considers it "much too early to talk about the title, there still are six races to go."

Last year's winner Uwe Alzen hopes that he "can finally break his duck". Just that happened in 2001 and Alzen eventually ended the season as runner-up with the Mercedes-Benz CLK-DTM. "I can forget about the championship", he says, "but my motivation remains unaffected. And for the Norisring, I am very confident. There, it is about top speed, traction and good brakes. And about a good condition of the driver, because between the high grand stands and increased by the concrete, the Norisring becomes boiling hot in sunny weather. The physical pressure is enormous."

Reigning champion Bernd Schneider, most recently second at the Sachsenring courtesy of an excellent performance, is confident: "This season, our Mercedes-team has made up positions quite often because of a perfect strategy, I am looking forward to an exciting race and the special flair in Nuremberg." And of course, to the world cup final, and a possible participation of his brother-in-law Oliver Bierhoff.


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Series DTM
Drivers Jean Alesi , Laurent Aiello , Bernd Schneider , Joachim Winkelhock , Uwe Alzen , Manuel Reuter , Christian Abt