It may still be the winter off-season, but the DTM has not stopped moving, with the glitz and glamour of its 38th annual 'Ball des Sports' swiftly followed by a move onto the piste as two of its leading faces took to the bobsleigh run.

Some 1,800 guests from the domains of sport, economy, politics and entertainment joined the series' stars in Wiesbaden, and enjoyed the opening spectacle as Martin Tomczyk, Susie Stoddart, Timo Scheider and Mathias Lauda caused a stir by arriving at the red carpet reception at the 'Wiesbadener Festhallen' behind the wheel of original DTM safety cars with flashing lights.

With a 'Night of the Dragons' theme to the evening - in the style of the Beijing Olympic Games - the opening by Shaolin monks and indoor fireworks was followed by a performance from singer Barbara Sch?neberger, the appearance of Horizontal Bar World Champion and sportsman of the year Fabian Hamb?chen and finally that of Roxy Music front man Brian Ferry as the midnight special guest.

Others present included Track-and-Field World Champions Franka Dietzsch and Betty Heidler, World Fencing Champions Britta Heidemann and Peter Joppich, the World Handball Champions, the World Women Football Champions and the World Women Hockey Champions.

"The Ball des Sports is one of the biggest social events in Germany," commented Mercedes ace Lauda, son of triple Formula 1 World Champion Niki Lauda. "I was delighted to be a part of it."

"Meeting that many different sportsmen and sportswomen from different disciplines at a joint event was just great," concurred Audi rival Tomczyk. "It was an impressive evening that I'm going to remember for quite a while."

Just days later, Stoddart and Markus Winkelhock rediscovered their racing spirit by taking to the ice for a charge down the bob run, within the scope of the Bobsleigh World Cup in Berchtesgaden. Together with multiple bobsleigh champion Ren? Spies, the Mercedes and Audi pilots headed down the run minutes before the start of the first round, experiencing all the G-forces you have to cope with in the ice channel.

Back on the race track, meanwhile, Deutsche Post has become the series' official sponsor for the next two years, with DHL - Formula 1's global logistics partner since 2001 - set to support the tin-top action in a similar capacity.

"As the world's most popular touring car series, the DTM stands for speed, dynamic and team spirit, thus representing the optimum partner for us," said J?rgen Gerdes, company board member of LETTER and PARCEL Germany, in explaining Deutsche Post's new motor racing involvement. "The DTM offers its sponsors splendid appearance opportunities. With this co-operation with Germany's number one racing series, we underline our reputation of being the post for Germany - and getting through to a broad public."

The live TV live coverage of last year's races alone amounted to a total time of 586 hours, whilst worldwide the championship was televised for 2,862 hours. More than 800,000 spectators witnessed the action on-track.

Deutsche Post's sponsorship package will comprise perimeter advertising and equipping the grid girls, as well as promotional activities during race weekends. At the same time, Deutsche Post will use its presence in the exclusive DTM environment as a business platform.

"With Deutsche Post and DHL, we have obtained two partners reflecting exactly those values that also are of major importance for us," beamed ITR Chairman Werner Aufrecht. "Just as it is the case in the DTM, speed and precision represent key factors for the success of Deutsche Post. In addition, DHL will be a reliable partner when it comes to supporting the complex logistic demands of the DTM."

Testing ahead of the fast-approaching new campaign - to get into gear at Hockenheim on 13 April - will be held at Mugello in Italy from 10-12 March, representing the first clash of the year between reigning champion Audi and challenger Mercedes. Three weeks after that, the manufacturers will travel to the Oschersleben for another three days of testing, from 31 March to 2 April.