by Russell AtkinsTO HEAR THE INTERVIEW IN FULL: CLICK HERE
Following on from a strong debut season in the series in 2007, Paul di Resta vows he is now up for a challenge for the DTM crown in 2008 – when he may just be given up-to-date machinery with which to do battle.
The Scot wowed many onlookers by ascending the rostrum four times last year, despite being at the wheel of a modest 2005-spec Mercedes C-Class. Not only that, but the campaign marked the first time in the 21-year-old's career that he had raced with a roof over his head – something he admits took a little getting used to at first.
“It was quite a big jump,” he acknowledged, speaking exclusively to Crash.net Radio
, “and it took me a long time to get my head around it, but the car is pretty similar. It has good brakes and a lot of power, and the driving technique when you find the limit is quite close to what you would experience in a single-seater.
“After the winter testing it was quite clear how fast the car was going to be. That meant it wasn't so much of a shock to me at the first race, because we knew we had good pace; it was a matter of how quickly I could get my head around the longer races, pit-stops and how race strategy worked. At the end of the day I was there to help the other guys, so hopefully I did a good job.
“Everybody at Mercedes and Persson [Motorsport] all helped tremendously, and I owe a big thank you to them. They certainly made my year easier than it could have been.”
As to his ultimate achievements – a brace of second and third places apiece and seven points finishes from ten races en route
to fifth spot in the end-of-season drivers' standings – di Resta is justifiably proud, particularly as he ended proceedings as the best-placed driver in a non 2007-spec car. That's not to say, however, that he doesn't intend to do even better in 2008…
“We had to make the best of what we had,” he asserted. “In some places it was enough and in some places it wasn't. We just had to make the maximum out of what that car could produce.
“I would say it was a good year; it was pretty satisfying. It would have been a tough challenge to make any more of an impact than we did, so we've got to be happy.
“We had four podiums and a lot of good qualifying pace, but we were unfortunate. In the middle of the year I got taken off a few times at the first corner through no fault of my own.
“I think the strongest performance we were going to have was at the Norisring, but it rained before qualifying and I had never driven the car in the wet. That hampered us because we were in at least the top three in every session, including the warm-up, and it was all under control. We qualified eighth which wasn't too bad, but then got taken out at the first corner and still managed to set the second-fastest race lap.
“There were a couple of times when we thought 'ok, we've got the pace'; I would say we definitely had the pace to win the first race at Hockenheim, and didn't due to inexperience and some other issues. If you take that into account I think we were in a strong position come the end of the year.
“I now have a year under my belt, and I'm not going in as a rookie anymore; I'm going in as a title contender. Hopefully people will think of me in that way, and I want to make an impact quite soon, score as many points as I can and progress on in the championship. I went in last year expecting to [win races], so hopefully this year what we expect we will do.”
To read the interview in full, click hereTO HEAR THE INTERVIEW IN FULL: CLICK HERE