1 January 1901
Spengler: Title would be perfect anniversary gift.
Bruno Spengler is aiming to replicate his form from last season's closing round at Hockenheim, as he bids to wrestle the crown away from long-time series leader Mattias Ekström in the dying laps of the 2007 DTM campaign.
The young Mercedes star qualified second on the grid before storming to victory at the home of the German Grand Prix this time last year, and after finishing second at Barcelona just under three weeks ago he has leapt up into the same spot in the drivers' standings, a mere two points shy of his Swedish rival.
The only one of the three-pointed star's drivers still in with a chance of outright glory, having finished as runner-up to Bernd Schneider in the 2006 title chase the Canadian makes no bones about what his objectives are for this coming weekend.
“The championship is open in the final race,” the 24-year-old asserted. “I hope for an exciting and fair battle with the other two title contenders, and ultimately I want to end up with one more point than them.”
Hockenheim will mark an extra-special race for Mercedes, as it is the Stuttgart manufacturer's 300th in the DTM. Thus far it has triumphed in an astonishing 140 of the 299 it has entered, with six victories from nine races this year as well as three one-twos, five pole positions and five fastest laps.
“With two race wins and two pole positions, my personal balance of the season is better than my overall ranking,” admitted former double Formula 1 World Champion Mika Hakkinen, the only Mercedes driver to emerge victorious on more than one occasion so far this year.
“Despite my penalty, which will put me down the grid by ten places, I want to demonstrate at Hockenheim how good our team performs. I consider my fine of 20,000 Euros for the race accident with Martin Tomczyk in Barcelona inappropriate, however I am looking ahead relaxed. During my Formula 1 career of 162 grands prix and in 29 DTM races I never had a reputation as an unfair driver, and that will remain so.”
Having endured a largely frustrating campaign up until his Spanish success three weeks ago, British ace Jamie Green is also aiming to sign off with a triumphant flourish, and he has good cause to head to Hockenheim in confident spirits.
“In my five races on this track so far, I have started from pole position twice and posted three fastest laps,” the 25-year-old stated. “They are good pre-conditions to repeat my victory from the previous race, and that's what I'm aiming for.”
“The 300th race in the DTM is a memorable stage of our involvement in touring car racing,” added Mercedes-Benz Motorsport Vice-President Norbert Haug, who urged for hard but fair driving in the finale following all the controversy in Barcelona. “I have experienced most of these races on-site, and have good memories of the 140 victories and all nine championship titles we have won.
“However, I have the very best memories of the enthusiastic crowds and fan culture. If we could clinch our tenth title in Hockenheim, it would be a nice reward for all our team members after such a tough, eventful and particularly busy season.”
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