As expected, Audi has bolstered its DTM squad for 2007 with the signing of two up-and-coming young stars in its efforts to wrest the title away from rival Mercedes.
Germans Lucas Luhr and Mike Rockenfeller will strengthen the Ingolstadt marque's driver line-up in both the DTM and in sportscar events with the revolutionary Audi R10 TDI diesel. The pairing are products of Porsche's 'Star of Tomorrow' scheme, having clinched the Porsche Carrera Cup in 1999 and 2004 respectively.
Monaco-domiciled Luhr has enjoyed a successful career in the American Le Mans Series since his Carrera Cup triumph seven years ago. The 27-year-old claimed the GT title two years in a row in 2002 and 2003, before adding to those laurels with the LMP2 drivers' crown in 2006. With an impressive 23 ALMS class wins to his name – including one at Le Mans and five in the prestigious Sebring 12 Hours – as well as the 2004 FIA GT Championship, he said he was eager to get to grips with his new challenge.
“At Audi I will finally get the chance to fight for overall victories,” he enthused. “I'm incredibly pleased about the DTM, the Audi R10 TDI and the opportunity to work with Audi Sport. It is a special honour for me to be able to drive for such a fascinating and successful marque like Audi.”
Rockenfeller, meanwhile, is widely touted as one of Germany's brightest new hopes. The youngest Carrera Cup winner at the age of 20 two years ago, since then the Neuwied ace has taken class victory at the Le Mans and Spa-Francorchamps, and triumphed outright in the Nürburgring 24 Hours.
“I've realised a dream by securing a factory contract with Audi,” commented 'Rocky'. “The DTM is a tremendous target and excellent alternative to Formula One for every young German racing driver.”
Head of Audi Motorsport Dr Wolfgang Ullrich is confident his two new charges will be more than up to the task of performing at the highest level in one of the world's premier touring car series, while dovetailing those commitments with selected outings in the R10 TDI.
“It is important to us that our drivers can also make a valuable contribution to the sportscar project,” he stressed. “Lucas and Mike can do this.
“Lucas has shown over the last few years that he is just as fast at the wheel of a GT car as he is with a Le Mans Prototype, while Mike has demonstrated impressively at the wheel of the LMP2 Porsche and in the GrandAm Series that he also possesses the necessary talent for this car. I'm convinced they are a strong addition to our driver line-up and will fit in at Audi very well.”