The car which Audi hopes will help turn the tables on arch-rival Mercedes in the DTM this year has completed its first laps on-track - leaving the Ingolstadt manufacturer aiming high with just over three weeks to go before the start of the 2007 campaign.

The new machine - codenamed 'R13' - will herald Audi's fourth factory-backed assault on the championship laurels, which it last lifted in its maiden campaign in 2004. Assembled from approximately 6,000 parts - excluding engine and gearbox components - and packing away a four-litre, V8 engine, the model represents an evolution for the marque, with an all-new racing variant of the A4 due to come on-song next year.

"It's not possible to make big leaps in the DTM because of the restrictive regulations," emphasised Ulrich Baretzky, Head of Engine Technology at Audi Sport. "For these reasons it's even more astonishing that small improvements are found year after year."

There have also been some key changes on the aerodynamics and suspension side of things, and the early signs on the back of a three-day test at Barcelona have certainly been encouraging.

"The 2007 A4 DTM generates more downforce," Head of Vehicle Technology at Audi Sport Wolfgang Appel added, "but at the same time has a better drag coefficient."

The 2007 DTM campaign will get underway at Hockenheim on 20-22 April.