While one half of Audi's walking wounded looks set to make his racing return at Oschersleben this coming weekend, there will be a new face in the Audi camp as fellow Hockenheim victim Alex Prémat has been forced to sit out round two of the 2007 DTM campaign.
The Frenchman and team-mate Tom Kristensen were the worst-affected of the opening lap shunt in round one, with both ending up in hospital. The Dane, though – who boasts a strong record around Oschersleben, having never started off the front row at the circuit and after triumphing in two of the last three races held there, including his maiden DTM success back in 2004 – is bidding to be fit in time for the race weekend, with a rebuilt A4 DTM ready and waiting for him.
“I celebrated my first-ever DTM win at Oschersleben in 2004,” the 'King of Le Mans' stated. “I won there again last year and to-date have always started from the front row. This is the motivation I need to be fit again, and I'll do everything possible to make sure I'm ready to race at Oschersleben.”
Prémat's place, meanwhile, will be taken by Audi American Le Mans Series ace and fellow Le Mans winner Marco Werner, a man with some tin-top experience having regularly piloted the Audi A4 DTM Race Taxi last year and after finishing runner-up in the Nürburgring 24 Hours in a DTM machine in 2003.
“Obviously I would have much rather got this opportunity to race in the new DTM under completely different circumstances,” the German underlined, “and I wish Alex a speedy recovery. I will do my utmost to fly the flag for him as his deputy though, and am delighted about the confidence placed in me by Audi.
“The circumstances are obviously not the best; I'm not familiar with either the car or the tyres, and I only know the circuit from a few demonstration laps with the Audi R10 TDI. Everybody knows just how difficult the DTM is, but I will certainly try to make the best of it for Audi. One of my strengths is that I learn new circuits quickly.”
Head of Audi Motorsport Dr Wolfgang Ullrich was cautious ahead of the race weekend, but hopeful Werner would step into the breach with the minimum of upheaval.
“We obviously hope Tom will be fit again,” he said, “while with Marco we are adding another strong driver from within our own ranks to the grid as stand in for Alex. I'm sure Alex will keep his fingers crossed for him.”