„The Asia Connection“
The majority of DTM drivers will be treading on entirely new territory when the DTM retinue sets off for China in less than three weeks. But for a handful of drivers the journey to Shanghai represents a return to Asia. Jean Alesi (Mercedes Benz), Heinz-Harald Frentzen (Opel) and Tom Kristensen (Audi) have all got ties to the Asian continent and are giving us a bit of a foretaste of what can be expected at the DTM’s exhibition race in China.
Former Formula 1 star Jean Alesi competed several times in Japan and Malaysia during his long career in the sport’s premier series. In addition, his wife Kumiko hails from the „land of the rising sun“. „The Asian fans are above all interested in the cars’ technology and the speed“, said the Frenchman who lives in Switzerland. „The people there are incredibly disciplined – one really notices it especially at autograph sessions.“
Opel works driver Heinz-Harald Frentzen gathered experience in Asia in the years 1992 and 1993. The driver from Mönchengladbach competed in the Japanese Formula 3000 and in the sport prototype championship. „What I remember the most are the contrasts“, Frentzen reminisced. „Life is unbelievably hectic and busy, but the people are by contrast very polite and reserved.“ Following some teething problems, the 1997 Formula 1 vice champion has also made peace with the Asian cuisine in the meantime: „Some of what the Asians eat we wouldn’t even want to hold in our hands. In the meantime I think the Asian cuisine is fantastic.“
Similar to Frentzen, Tom Kristensen also spent part of his successful career in the Far East. The Dane competed from 1992 to 1995 in Japan in Formula and touring car series. „There’s a great motor sports scene in Japan with loads of enthusiastic fans“, said Kristensen. „The market is growing stronger and stronger in China and we can achieve a lot there with the DTM. We are practically the first to compete in China.“
The Audi works driver is full of anticipation: „It’s going to be a fantastic experience and I’m very much looking forward to it. The whole team is also psyched about China.“
Frentzen agreed: „At the moment, everything that comes from the West is very popular in China. And we’re going to cause a bit of a stir with our really amazing cars. Who knows? Maybe this will develop into a kind of tradition like previously the invitation race in Macao.“