Frank Biela will make an unexpected DTM comeback at Oschersleben this weekend, having received a late call-up to stand in for the injured Tom Kristensen.
The Dane was involved in a massive accident on the first lap of the DTM opener at Hockenheim two weekends ago, but had been expected to make the grid for round two. Owing to the high-levels of passive safety built into the Audi A4, Kristensen remained largely uninjured - with the exception of whiplash and bruising - and was able to leave hospital only two days after the accident. However, despite having almost fully recovered from the after-effects of the accident while recuperating at home in Denmark, Kristensen has been stood down by Audi, following advice from doctors - including team physician Christian John - and the DMSB.
"The health of our drivers is of the highest priority,” explained head of motorsport Dr Wolfgang Ullrich, "We want to give Tom the opportunity to recover completely before climbing back into the cockpit of his A4 DTM. In view of the severity of the accident, this simply needs time.”
As a result, the Dane's sometime Le Mans partner, and 1991 DTM champion, Biela will step back into the cockpit of a touring car when he takes the wheel of Kristensen's #7 Siemens -backed A4. The 42-year old last competed in the DTM in 2004, but a disappointing campaign saw him return to the sportscar arena, where he helped Audi clinch this year's Sebring 12 Hours.
"Obviously, I know just how close things are in the DTM, and how difficult it will be to hit the ground running in the season without testing,” the veteran admitted, "On the other hand, I heard that the new A4 DTM is great to drive.
"I'm intrigued, and will do everything to do a good job as cover for Tom. I know that he'll be sitting in front of the television at home keeping his fingers crossed for me. Naturally, I'm delighted about the chance to start in the DTM again - but I would have preferred if it had been due to different circumstances...”
Audi has already called up Marco Werner to replace Alex Premat, who was the most seriously injured victim of the four-car pile-up sparked when Kristensen was tipped into a spin on the opening lap at Hockenheim. Adam Carroll and Mercedes' Susie Stoddart walked away from the accident and will be in action at Oschersleben.