Tom Kristensen has no fear returning to the circuit that put him in hospital back at the start of the season, and is anticipating an exciting and action-packed meeting as the destiny of the 2007 DTM crown will finally be revealed at Hockenheim this weekend.
The Dane – widely-tipped to be a title contender at the beginning of the year after running Mercedes' Bernd Schneider so close for the laurels in 2006 – was the most heavily-affected of the four drivers caught up in the opening lap mêlée back in April, with the result that he was sidelined for the following three races. Though he finished fifth on his comeback at the Norisring at the end of June, only two further points have since come his way, and he now says his main aim is to help Audi seal the manufacturers' honours.
"It will be interesting to return to Hockenheim,” the 40-year-old 'King of Le Mans' admitted. “The season started there and, because of the accident, it couldn't have started any worse for me.
“My goal is to make a better job of it in the last race and help Audi to clinch the championship. I'm hoping the grandstands are full and the atmosphere electric."
With as many as 100,000 spectators expected to grace the second-fastest circuit on the DTM schedule this weekend, Kristensen is understandably keen to put on a good show, but he acknowledged Hockenheim places particular demands on both drivers and cars.
"Braking from high-speed is a very important element of the set-up,” he underlined, “and in the same way the car must be well-balanced in the fast corners. Furthermore, the precise change of direction in tight corners and good traction are basic set-up requirements.
"I would say Hockenheim is the most important date on the calendar because we visit it twice. It's already a tradition that the opening and closing races of the season are run there. At the same time, it is also the home track of our rival who we obviously want to beat.
“It goes without saying that the data from the first race in April is helpful since the gear ratios and aerodynamic data are quite special. You often see good overtaking manoeuvres at the hairpin, and the fans can expect wheel-to-wheel action two corners later. The second corner after the start-and-finish is also a good place. Because the tyres are more consistent than in previous years you see less overtaking manoeuvres in the Motodrom – however, anything is possible in the finale!
"The Motodrom is like a big stadium – quite simply sensational. At the start of my career it was absolutely amazing to race in front of so many packed grandstands. The rockets that line the start-and-finish and which are ignited as we cross the finish line at the end of the season are also something very special. It is an incredible and fitting atmosphere for every champion."
Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline team director Hans-Jürgen Abt similarly predicted a close fight and a thrilling end to what has been a hotly-fought campaign from beginning to end.
"It couldn't be more exciting at Hockenheim,” he stated, “particularly as three drivers are fighting for the title. I'm delighted that two of them are from our team. We'll approach the job in-hand meticulously and will be highly focused. We know our Audi A4 is fast and we are happy to have the ten kilogram weight advantage. I believe the fans will see a fantastic race."