Zandvoort will see the response from the AllgÃ¤u The final dash of the DTM (Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters) could not be more outrageous: within only one week, the 21 drivers are taking on the two final rounds of the season. Before the final round...
Zandvoort will see the response from the Allgäu
The final dash of the DTM (Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters) could not be more outrageous: within only one week, the 21 drivers are taking on the two final rounds of the season. Before the final round will be taking place at its traditional venue in Hockenheim, October 6, Abt Sportsline already has the chance to make the dream of the title come true this week-end at Zandvoort. Laurent Aiello has a 19 points' advantage coming to the track at the North Sea. After reigning champion Bernd Schneider defended the first "match point" in Austria, Aiello and his team will now make their next attempt.
Since the race in Austria, almost three weeks ago, predictions about how the title race between Schneider and Aiello will develop are impossible. During the 24 dramatic laps, the championship appeared to be decided at one moment, and then was still open two corners later. "Mercedes has been fighting with its entire line-up, which of course is legitimate at this stage of the season. But although we only have half as many cars, we will strike back at Zandvoort -- Mercedes will get the response from the Allgäu," team boss Hans-Jürgen Abt announces with a grin.
More than ever, Aiello's team mates will be playing an important role in The Netherlands. So far, the focus has been on getting Laurent Aiello to the fore as far as possible. Now, Christian Abt, Martin Tomczyk, Karl Wendlinger and Mattias Ekström can help their French spearhead in a way that is both easy and tempting: should any one of them win the Zandvoort round, then Schneider's chance of keeping the title race open until the season final will be decreasing dramatically and will be only mathematical.
One of the main candidates for victory at Zandvoort is Christian Abt. The driver from Kempten was one of the major players in a dramatic DTM-race last year. Having started from his first-ever pole-position in the DTM, he dominated the field with his Abt-Audi TT-R for 23 laps, looking like the certain winner, before still being overtaken just before the finish line. It is clear: Abt has unfinished business at the Circuit Park Zandvoort, and he would like to finish it just this week-end.
Behind the two adversaries for the 2002 championship title, the situation is no less exciting: with Mattias Ekström, Jean Alesi, Marcel Fässler and Uwe Alzen, several drivers are battling for third place in the championship and even runner-up spot isn't entirely out of reach either. And then, there are also youngster Martin Tomczyk and Karl Wendlinger. This season, both have been frequently among the fastest drivers out there, but they are still waiting for their first shower of champagne on the podium. There are no better reasons than claiming their first trophy at Zandvoort.
Quotes before the race
Christian Abt (#10):
"Sometimes, motor racing is like a film: there can only be one! And that one is from our team, he is called Laurent Aiello and he will be the DTM champion 2002. We will give our everything to get things sorted at Zandvoort, so that we will not have to face a nerve-wrecking battle at Hockenheim. I still have unfinished business at Zandvoort from last year. The great thing is: when I finish it this week-end, I also help Laurent to win the title."
Laurent Aiello (#3):
"At Zandvoort, I will have a better start than in Austria, I have been practicing a lot during testing last week. It is certain that I don't necessarily have to win in The Netherlands, I can rather take it easy and keep focused on the championship. More than ever, we will be racing as a closed team and we will do everything to secure the title."
Mattias Ekström (#9):
"Because of the sand from the dunes that is flying around, Zandvoort is always very slippery. These conditions suit me, as I like to play around a little bit with the car. For me, the final dash of the season is exciting as well, because the competitors behind me are getting closer and closer. And when I still want to have a realistic chance to claim runner-up spot from Bernd, I will have to think of something: maybe, I should just try it with a victory."
Martin Tomczyk (#23):
"At our first appearance, the atmosphere amidst the dunes already was great, and with the fight for the title, the race at the week-end surely will be one of the season's highlights. Last year, I did quite well at the track during all the practice sessions, but I had bad luck in qualifying and in the race. As far as I am concerned, that could be the other way round this year."
Karl Wendlinger (#4):
"I have never driven a DTM-car at Zandvoort, therefore I will have to get to know the track during practice and find the right set-up. Now, I don't have to look after points anymore and therefore, I can climb into the car without any pressure and drive all-out, in order to help Laurent in his fight for the title."