Audi drivers especially motivated for Zandvoort
Audi factory driver Mattias Ekström reclaimed the DTM championship lead with a win at the Nürburgring. The Swede from Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline wants to increase his lead at Zandvoort. The signs for this are good: The demanding circuit on the Dutch North Sea coast really suited the Audi A4 DTM last season, and the young 27-year-old Swede’s run of success on the circuit through the dunes is impressive: At Zandvoort, Ekström finished on the podium three times in succession, twice (2002 and 2004) on his favourite place – the very top step.
"Zandvoort is the circuit at which I have been most successful at in the DTM", says Mattias Ekström. "Additionally, it is a little like a ‘home’ race for me since it’s not that far from Sweden to Holland. That’s why I really look forward to this race each time and think that we’ll be just as strong there as we were last year.”
Two of his team-mates also have good memories of the circuit lying almost 30 kilometres west of Amsterdam: Finishing second last year, Martin Tomczyk earned Audi a one-two victory. Tom Kristensen shone on his Zandvoort début by immediately setting the fastest time of the day. For Allan McNish, who competed in and won the 1000-kilometre race at Silverstone in an Audi R8 between the two DTM races at the Nürburgring and Zandvoort, the current circuit layout in Zandvoort is, in contrast, new territory.
At Audi Sport Team Joest, Christian Abt in particular is looking forward to the "away” race in the Netherlands: The man form Bavaria, currently the highest scoring German DTM driver, loves the course like no other, taking his only pole position in the DTM there in 2001 before narrowly missing victory in a photo finish after an unforgettable duel with Uwe Alzen. "Zandvoort is my absolute favourite circuit and, as a consequence, the highlight of the year for me", Christian Abt. "I’ve always been up at the front there. When everything slots into place a top-five position should also be possible with my year old A4. I want to score points regularly, since my season goal is to be the best German driver.”
While his team-mates Frank Stippler and Pierre Kaffer already know the circuit from other racing series, the same applies for Rinaldo Capello as for Allan McNish: The Italian last drove at Zandvoort before the circuit layout was changed.
Rinaldo Capello: "I was at Zandvoort with the Super Touring cars in 1994, however at that time it was still the short circuit. I don’t know the current circuit but I know from its characteristics that it should suit my Audi. We have finally found a good basic set-up allowing me to concentrate completely on learning the circuit.”
There is another reason for the Audi drivers to be successful in Zandvoort: On Saturday, Head of Audi Motorsport Dr Wolfgang Ullrich celebrates his 55th birthday. The best possible present for the Austrian would be another victory.