|April 21, 2002
Double Victory for Abt Sportsline in DTM Season Opener
At the opening round of the DTM (Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters) in Hockenheim, in front of 56,000 spectators, the Team Abt Sportsline impressively proved that the Abt-Audi TT-Rs are able to race for the title in the 2002 season. Laurent Aiello and Mattias Ekström provided the team from the Allgäu with a dominant double victory and also took the lead in the championship. Youngster Martin Tomczyk (20) completed the success of the Abt tram with a lights-to-flag victory in the qualification race.
Following the strong performance in qualifying, the Abt-Audi TT-Rs were in a class of their own on race day as well. In the qualification race, Martin Tomczyk, Laurent Aiello, Mattias Ekström and Christian Abt occupied the first four places. Karl Wendlinger had to make do with tenth place after a not entirely perfect start and a spectacular spin. In the race, the Austrian charged to sixth and thus scored a point at his DTM debut. And that is especially valuable because of the new DTM points scheme, that only rewards the best six, just like in Formula 1.
Martin Tomczyk had bad luck in the main race: following his dominant victory in the qualification race, the youngest driver in the entire DTM-field didn't have a good getaway at the start. Although he dropped back to tenth place, the driver from Rosenheim was already getting close to a point scoring position before his mandatory pit stop. After the tyre change, however, the youngster shifted into neutral under braking and landed in the gravel trap.
Christian Abt's strong performance also remained unrewarded. The driver from Kempten overtook Jean Alesi with a spectacular manoeuvre, was a secure second and was catching up on the eventual winner Laurent Aiello, but then had to sit out a stop and go penalty just before the end of the race. That made Abt, who had conducted a major part of testing with the Abt-Audi TT-R during the winter, drop out of the points.
At the season opener, the Team Abt Sportsline was not only fastest on the track: with 7.020 seconds, the crew from the Allgäu also completed the fastest pit stop of the day.
Quotes after the race
Laurent Aiello (2nd place / 1st place):
Martin Tomczyk (1st place / retired):
Karl Wendlinger (10th place / 6th place):
Christian Abt (4th place / 7th place):
Mattias Ekström (3rd place / 2nd place):
Hans-Jürgen Abt (team principal):