Audis Dtm: to Turn the Tables

By: Lauren Woods

The Audi AG is about to set forth a powerful campaign dubbed DTM. The campaign will begin this weekend at Hockenheim. The German automaker is delivering their DTM campaign with high hopes to snatch the crown back from Mercedes which is its closest rival.

Martin Tomczyk and Tom Kristensen were the Ingolstadt marque's highest-scoring representatives in 2006, winding up third and fourth in the end-of-season drivers' standings as Mercedes star racers filled out four of the top six places and succeed in 60 percent of the races.

Additionally, Mattias Ekstrom, formerly the series champion, finished a lowly eighth but with a single victory to his name. However, at present, all three are confident of being able to turn the tables.

"We are all looking forward to the start of the 2007 DTM season," said seven-time Le Mans 24 Hours winner Kristensen. "Previously, Hockenheim has always been a circuit that didn't suit our Audi, especially the first two sectors. Since we race twice there - the opener and finale - Hockenheim is of particular importance. Audi Sport and the team have improved the A4 DTM noticeably over the winter. It will be very interesting to see whether the step forward was big enough."

Tomczyk also is positive the DTM campaign could get underway. The and other racing parts may not be enough but the eagerness, passion and skills of the racers could fuel up the adrenaline and performance. Race enthusiasts are confident Audi can take the fight to Mercedes on a far more consistent basis this time around.

"It's high time things finally get started again," Tomczyk quipped. "I have high expectations for the season-opener. I like Hockenheim; until now I've always been in the leading group in qualifying and the race."

"I'm really interested to see how things shape up at the first race - especially in qualifying on Saturday," Ekstrom concurred. "Then we'll know where we stand in comparison to the competition. My team and I are well-prepared. We have tested intensively with the new Audi A4 DTM and my gut feeling is that we can be successful this year, but let's wait and see how things really look after qualifying."

Meanwhile, Christian Abt was rather more circumspect heading into the opening round, fearing last year's Audi A4 will not be able to live with the 2006-spec Mercedes C-Class at the home of the German Grand Prix.

"I come to Hockenheim with mixed feelings," the tin-top veteran intimated. "The 2006 car was already extremely well-sorted last year, so that there was hardly any room to make it quicker over the winter. I'm afraid we'll have a tough time in last year's A4 against the year-old Mercedes at Hockenheim."

Wolfgang Ullrich, the head of the Audi Motorsport, believes that the overall picture for the manufacturer would be far more encouraging than that of a year ago. Ullrich anticipates the opening skirmish with a good deal of excitement and anticipation.

"The season finally starts after a winter of hard work," Ullrich noted. "We are well-prepared and have strengthened our team with young drivers, who made a strong impression during the tests. I'm optimistic, but you only have a true idea of where you stand after two or three races are already run. I'm convinced it will be very close again and the spectators can look forward to a thrilling DTM season in 2007."

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