DTM

Zandvoort: Round nine preview

9th round DTM Circuit Park Zandvoort/NL, September 19-21, 2003 No time to relax -- DTM final sprint more exciting than ever At racing speed, the DTM is in its most exciting final stage since its comeback four years ago. Before the ninth and ...

9th round DTM Circuit Park Zandvoort/NL, September 19-21, 2003
No time to relax -- DTM final sprint more exciting than ever

At racing speed, the DTM is in its most exciting final stage since its comeback four years ago. Before the ninth and penultimate round of the DTM at the Circuit Park Zandvoort/NL, three drivers are separated by only nine points. Championship leader Bernd Schneider with his AMG-Mercedes only has a three points' advantage over his team mate, Dutch driver Christijan Albers, and nine points over Marcel Fässler (Mercedes-Benz) from Switzerland.

Only theoretical chances of defending his title are being held by champion Laurent Aiello with the Abt-Audi TT-R, 20 points down, but with a very good perspective for the race: at the 4.3 kilometres long traditional track, Abt-team-mate Mattias Ekström scored a dominant maiden win last year. And the track in the dunes suited the Opel Astra V8 Coupé, too: in 2002, two Opel-drivers finished in the top five.

Champion Aiello (Abt-Audi): "We have to win the remaining two races"

"This race will always remain something special, for me and for the team," says Abt Sportsline's Laurent Aiello. "After all, everything last year was so emotional: catching up, the joy together with my team-mates on the roof of the car, our instant title party. The only thing still missing is a victory at Zandvoort. My goal is a position among the first three in the championship. And the road there is quite clear: Abt Sportsline has to win the remaining two races."

Last year's winner Mattias Ekström says: "The track at Zandvoort is always a challenge, because the circuit is very slippery. I like that, because it allows you to play a little bit with the car. Last year, I won here and I promised myself that it wouldn't be that long before the next win. So it's about time this weekend at the latest."

Team principal Hans-Jürgen Abt is sharing the confidence with his two top drivers: "The lay-out of the track should suit our Abt-Audi just like the Nürburgring, and after all, Laurent has won there."

Bernd Schneider (Mercedes): "Zandvoort is one of the most beautiful tracks"

"Zandvoort is one of the most beautiful tracks", says points leader Bernd Schneider. "As a Dutchman, Christijan will get a lot of support, but a lot of pressure as well. I hope that I am still the championship leader after this race, then everything is open for Hockenheim."

Christijan Albers says: "For me, the only important thing is getting the best result out of every race. I don't have to become champion right away in my first year in the works-team." The 24-year old hopes for "massive support from my fellow-countrymen" and he believes: "It is something very special when the fans are backing you."

Mercedes motorsport director Norbert Haug: "With two races to go, the title race in the DTM remains open and just as exciting as in Formula 1. There is a chance that Bernd Schneider will become champion at Zandvoort, but Christijan Albers, who is three points down, and Marcel Fässler with nine points will do everything to make sure that Bernd's advantage is less than ten points before the final at Hockenheim on October 5."

Opel-driver Menu: "Zandvoort is a great track for a driver, it requires courage"

Also highly motivated is Alain Menu with the Opel Astra V8 Coupé. Most recently at the A1-Ring, the Swiss caught up from the back end of the field -- where he found himself because of an accident involving other drivers -- to seventh place. "I really like Zandvoort a lot, it is a great track for a driver, requiring courage with its fast corners that are a real challenge and are incredible fun", the double British touring car champion says. "Moreover, I think that we are quite well sorted for the character of the track with our Astra Coupé."

Fellow Opel-driver Peter Dumbreck knows: "Zandvoort is always a bit of a gamble, because the track conditions are extremely inconsistent -- caused by the fact that the wind keeps blowing sand from the dunes onto the track." Dumbreck also likes "the flair that this track has, with the spectators on the natural grand stands in the dunes."

For Jeroen Bleekemolen, living only a stone's throw away from Zandvoort, the track is also something special: "It is my goal to make it into Super-Pole for the second time this season", the 21-year old says, "and then score points during the race." Bleekemolen is happy to see that "the DTM is becoming more and more popular in The Netherlands. Now, even those people that aren't motorsport fans come and talk to me about the DTM."

-dtm-

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Series DTM
Drivers Laurent Aiello , Marcel Fassler , Peter Dumbreck , Bernd Schneider , Christijan Albers , Norbert Haug , Mattias Ekström , Jeroen Bleekemolen , Hans-Jurgen Abt , Alain Menu