DTM » 17 February 2009
Audi confirms unchanged DTM line-up.
For the first time in its DTM history, the Audi squad will not feature a single change to its line-up, although there have been moves within the squad ahead of the 2009 campaign.
Looking to build on Timo Scheider's 2008 title, the Ingolstadt marque has retained the same nine drivers it ran last year, with the new champion, former champion Mattias Ekström, Le Mans ace Tom Kristensen and racewinner Martin Tomczyk again being granted use of the four latest generation A4 DTMs, which will once again be fielded by Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline.
Mike Rockenfeller and Markus Winkelhock will remain in year-old cars with Audi Sport Team Rosberg, while Oliver Jarvis and Alexandre Prémat do likewise as 'team-mates' at Audi Sport Team Phoenix.
The only change to the line-up concerns Katherine Legge who, having contested her first DTM season with a two-year old A4 alongside Christijan Albers at Colin Kolles Futurecom-TME squad, moves to a 2008 model at Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline. Kolles' operation has been dropped from Audi's DTM roster, but will run customer R10s in the Le Mans Series. Former series runner-up Albers is also expected to step up to sportscars after a promising prototype debut towards the end of 2008.
"We decided to concentrate on our three factory teams - Abt Sportsline, Phoenix and Rosberg," head of motorsport Dr Wolfgang Ullrich explained, "It's a great opportunity for Katherine to start for the defending DTM championship winning team.
"2008 was the most successful year in the motorsport history of Audi AG, and the drivers were a major factor in this, which is why we saw no reason to change anything on our proven squad."
Audi's goal for 2009 - to be the first marque to win the modern era DTM three years running - is ambitious, but nevertheless one that Ullrich believes is within reach, particularly with the latest A4 DTMs, known within Ingolstadt as the 'R14 plus', having undergone various detail improvements over the winter.
"With our squad, I believe that we are well-placed to achieve this," he claimed, "However, it's perfectly clear to us that the challenge is even greater than last year and that the field could well be even closer. Mercedes-Benz will do everything to win the title in 2009."
The DTM season will kick off with a first official group test at Dijon over 14-16 April, three days before its annual launch in Düsseldorf. The first race weekend, at Hockenheim, follows four weeks later.
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