With four weeks until the DTM season-opener, Audi Sport Team Rosberg has confirmed an all new driver line-up for 2011, with Filipe Albuquerque and Edoardo Mortara replacing Markus Winkelhock and Katherine Legge.
This new direction – the first completely fresh start in four years – was prompted by a disappointing 2010 campaign, during which the team only scored seven points. Whilst both of its new recruits are DTM debutants, however, they bring with them a wealth of experience.
Albuquerque has most recently competed in the Italian GT Championship for Audi Sport Italia, having previously raced in the now defunct A1GP series, and he was famously victorious against Sebastian Vettel and Sébastien Loeb in the 2010 Race of Champions to claim the individual crown.
Mortara is not unknown to the DTM paddock, having triumphed in the supporting F3 Euroseries last year, and he is also the only man to have won the prestigious Macau Grand Prix twice, achieving back-to back glories in 2009 and 2010. Both drivers are naturally hungry for success.
“It's a really professional team, and even though I'm just a rookie, they are all very motivated,” enthused Albuquerque. “Edo and I have known each other for ages; we always came across each other in the karting days and in Formula Renault.
“Edo is a very strong driver and already knows the event format through the F3 Euroseries. I think we can push each other in a very positive way in order to improve our own performances. It goes without saying that I want to score points, and if possible on a regular basis. At the end of the day, it's all about who will be the best driver of a car from our model year.”
“The team has an infrastructure and the conditions for success,” concurred Mortara. “Now we have to implement this all together. I'm interested to see just how well we will succeed in our first year. I'll set myself goals from race-to-race. To start, I have to get a clear impression of the relative strengths in the DTM – even the first DTM test gives at most just a hint, but will still not be the benchmark.”
Despite their lack of touring car experience, Audi Sport Team Rosberg team boss Arno Zensen is optimistic about the potential of his two new protégés
“After it was clear that both of our cockpits would be taken by new drivers this year, I can only say that this is exactly my dream combination,” he confessed, “so before the first race, one wish has been realised. Edoardo and Filipe are two raw diamonds. I'm very thankful to be able to work together with them.
“I was very pleased by the two drivers during the first tests – both guys are on the attack and felt at ease in our team immediately. I was impressed by the way they work and their speed on-track. All the employees are impressed by our drivers and feel a new drive. The two guys have already shown in their careers just what they are capable of, so we have to be successful – and we will be."
The 2011 DTM season begins on 1 May at Hockenheim.
by Jon Gurr