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Audi return to scene of triumph in buoyant mood
1 January 1901
Deposed championship leader Mattias Ekström is aiming to reclaim his advantage in the 2007 DTM campaign by replicating his victory from last year in the upcoming round on British soil at Brands Hatch next weekend.
The 2004 series champion triumphed around the undulating Kent circuit 11 months ago after Audi team-mate Tom Kristensen was forced to retire almost within sight of the chequered flag. Although the Dane will be forced to miss the meeting as he continues his slow convalescence from the opening round smash, Ekström is confident of being able to maintain the Ingolstadt marque's supremacy at Brands, and at the same time avenge a disastrous outing at the Eurospeedway Lausitz last weekend in which only one A4 DTM finished in the points.
“I'm really looking forward to returning to Brands Hatch,” the Swede enthused. “The circuit suited us last year and the race went well for me. In general we are even better-prepared this season, which is why we should be capable of fighting for podium positions again. However, we'll have to wait and see just what affect the additional weight has at Brands Hatch.”
That success ballast must also be carried by fellow Audi Team Abt Sportsline star Martin Tomczyk, currently tied with Ekström for second in the points standings, four adrift of Mercedes' surprise pace-setter Paul di Resta. The young German took the flag in fourth place at Brands Hatch in 2006, and is keen to do at least as well again this time around to maintain his title challenge.
“We get dizzy during the race at Brands Hatch,” the 25-year-old joked. “Eighty-two laps around there is very intensive! The circuit is really short which means lots of work for the pit-board man, but it's a lot of fun, especially going into the fast first right-hand corner. I hope things run as well for us as they did last year.”
Christian Abt finished a battling fifth at Brands last year – considerably his best result of the season – and is hoping for a similar result again in 2007 as he bids to get his thus-far dispiriting campaign in a year-old machine off the ground.
“I have fond memories of Brands Hatch,” the tin-top veteran reminisced. “Things went exceptionally well there last year for both Audi and myself. The circuit suits our A4 so we can expect a lot. The speed is there – we just have to convert that into results.”
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