Britain's leading DTM hope Jamie Green was arguably the fastest man in the series this year, though a combination of driving errors and mechanical misfortune prevented him from climbing onto the top step of the podium. Now he has his sights set firmly on 2007.

The former F3 Euroseries champion was the author of a stunning run of five consecutive front row starts in the first half of the season, and four pole positions over the course of the campaign. Incredibly, it was not until the Nurburgring in August that he was finally displaced from the front row of the grid.

There were also three podium finishes and fifth position in the end-of-year driver standings, ahead of ex-Formula One aces Mika Hakkinen, Jean Alesi and Heinz-Harald Frentzen no less, and looking back the Leicestershire ace acknowledges he achieved pretty much everything except the win.

"I think the main thing this year was my starts which held me back," he admitted to Crash.net. "Towards the end of the year I managed to get that together, but I definitely had a difficult season. In the first race at Hockenheim an engine misfire put me out before I even got going, so the year didn't start off very well and it pretty much stayed that way throughout. It was very frustrating, but the main thing was I had good speed all year and showed how quick I can be.

"On the negative side, you tend to think 'if I've got that speed, I should be getting the results in the races as well' but, with only ten races in the year, if you have a few bad rounds, you don't really get chance to put it right, especially with the poor starts I've had and so on. I had nine opportunities to make a good start, and I think I succeeded on only four or five occasions. You've got to weigh it all up and put it into perspective though - it's obviously encouraging that I've got the speed, but there are areas where I can still improve."

It is easy to forget, indeed, that this year marked only Jamie's second season in the DTM, having already finished an impressive sixth overall in 2005. Following a glittering career in the junior single-seater ranks, his transition across to tin-tops has been almost seamless.

"I'm definitely very happy with the pace I showed," he added, "especially when you consider the competition I was up against. Just to drive alongside people like Hakkinen, Alesi and Frentzen is an honour. Sometimes I had to pinch myself to believe that someone like me, who started out in stock car racing as a ten-year old, was actually there in the same event as them. I would never have dreamed I would be on the grid alongside Mika Hakkinen - I grew up watching him on TV as a kid!

"Firstly, just getting your head round that isn't easy, but to then get your head round the fact that you're probably just as talented as them and arguably quicker is also quite an eye-opener. It's quite a nice feeling, but also quite bizarre at the same time."

If he was starstruck, though, it certainly didn't show as the 24-year old outscored all three grand prix winners to end the season as third Mercedes in the title chase. On no fewer than three occasions, Green finished less than five seconds away from victory, and was on course for a popular maiden triumph on home soil at Brands Hatch before he made an agonising mistake with only a handful of laps left to run.

"Just thinking about that still really hurts," he reflected. "Deep down in my heart I know that could have been one of the best days of my life, driving for Mercedes as a works DTM driver and winning my first-ever race in the series in my home country with all my friends and family there supporting me.

"It was almost the perfect day - the whole memory is a bit like a dream. Unfortunately, when I look back it's like a bad dream because I fell at one of the last hurdles while I was leading and threw away a big opportunity, and that's really hard to come to terms with."

Taking a more positive slant on the meeting, the 2003 British F3 runner-up said it had been an unforgettable experience to race in front of his home fans and one that he was keen to repeat, albeit admittedly with a slightly different result.

"Apart from Susie, I'm the only British driver in the field and to be the lead driver for your country in your home race is a really nice feeling," he explained. "It gave me a small idea of what it must be like to drive in your home grand prix as a Formula One driver. When I was racing in F3, either all the races were in my home country or none of them were, but when you race in front of your home crowd just once a year it puts an extra-special spring in your step."

Unsurprisingly, Brands Hatch ranks as one of Green's low points of the campaign, but there were plenty of happy memories too, not least of which being some of his scintillating qualifying laps.

"One of my highlights would have to be the pole position at Zandvoort," he said, "purely by the margin of speed I had over my team-mates. That was particularly rewarding.

"I can't really put my qualifying success down to any particular technique or process that I go through. It just boils down to the fact that you've just got one lap to put it all together, which I think really shows the raw talent of a driver, having to adapt to different circuits and conditions and only having one lap to make it all count. I can't really put it down to anything other than ability. Sometimes I surprise myself!"

With a new Mercedes contract for 2007 already signed, sealed and comfortably in his back pocket, Green said he would go into the winter knowing where he needed to improve for next year, but also confident in his ability to get the job done and finally break his DTM duck.

"I just hope I can do a better job than I did this year, build on my performance and not make the same mistakes again," he said. "I was fairly happy about my performance in 2006, but at the same time I knew more was definitely achievable.

"With the speed that I've shown, anything is possible. Obviously the main thing I'm looking for is to get a race win - that's what's missing the most - and if I can do that consistently then the championship is always a possibility. I need to keep an open mind and take it one race at a time.

"If I can keep consistent with my starts and improve my racecraft a little bit there will be a lot of opportunities for me to win races, and if you can do that why not go for the championship as well? I think the sky's the limit and feel like I've still got so much more to come."