|February 24, 2006
Audi DTM Squad is Almost Complete
The AUDI AG squad for the 2006 DTM is almost complete. Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline receives support from two new Audi factory teams in its efforts to retrieve the most popular international touring car racing series championship title back from Mercedes-Benz: Audi Sport Team Phoenix and Audi Sport Team Rosberg each enter two Audi A4 DTM cars. As before Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline fields four cars. Two privately entered A4 DTM cars run by the new Dr Colin Kolles managed customer team complete the squad.
Driving for Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline are three proven racers, former champion Mattias Ekström (S), Le Mans record winner Tom Kristensen (DK) and Martin Tomczyk (D) who all competed for the Bavarian team over the last couple of years. The fourth cockpit is still open. All four drivers get a newly built car for the 2006 season.
Audi Sport Team Phoenix enters two A4 DTM cars from last year for Christian Abt (D) and Pierre Kaffer (D). The team from the Eifel region is no unknown quantity for Audi Sport: In 1999 the team lead by Ernst Moser, which has its headquarters a stones throw form the Nürburgring, entered two Audi A4 quattros in the German Super Touring Championship (STW). Phoenix has been competing in the DTM since 2000.
New to the Audi family is the DTM experienced team of former Formula 1 World Champion Keke Rosberg, whose son Nico makes his Formula 1 debut this year. Audi Sport Team Rosberg also fields a brace of year-old cars, which will be driven by Frank Stippler (D) and newcomer Timo Scheider (D).
"All drivers have proven just how quick they can be in a DTM car, and each of them has at least one DTM season behind them,” explains Head of Audi Motorsport Dr Wolfgang Ullrich. "The past has shown that specific DTM experience is of particular importance in this hard fought racing series. This is also the case for our two new teams who must familiarise themselves with the Audi A4 DTM at first but not the DTM. They will form a strong combination together with our proven team Abt Sportsline.”
Audi Sport Team Joest, which competed for Audi in the DTM over the past two seasons, will concentrate entirely on the new Audi R10 sportscar project during the 2006 season. "The goal of becoming the first automobile manufacturer to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans with a diesel engine is very ambitious,” says Dr Ullrich. "Our test and development programme till Le Mans is so intensive that it doesn’t allow a parallel programme in the DTM.”
Two of the Audi A4 DTM cars which were entered by the Joest team last year have been acquired by the team run by Dr Colin Kolles. Audi supports the programme with its new works driver Vanina Ickx (B), who will drive one of the two cars originating from the 2004 season. A second driver has not been nominated by Dr Kolles yet.
The three Audi factory teams and the customer squad will be in action at the official DTM test at Vallelunga (Italy) in the forthcoming week. Further tests are planned from 20 to 23 March at Brands Hatch (Great Britain). The DTM will be unveiled to the public on 26 March in Düsseldorf (Germany).
The opening race of the DTM season is on 9 April at Hockenheim (Germany), where Saturday’s qualifying will be run for the first time in accordance with the new "Shoot-out” rules, which promises even more excitement. German TV ‘Das Erste’ broadcasts qualifying and the races live from all ten DTM 2006 events.