As exclusively predicted by Crash.net
last week [see separate article – click here
], Audi has confirmed that it has indeed signed up former McLaren Autosport Young Driver of the Year
Oliver Jarvis to form part of its ten-pronged DTM attack in 2008, in addition to adding the names of ex-Champ Car star Katherine Legge and Markus Winkelhock to its impressive roster.
Jarvis and Winkelhock have been handed 2007-spec Audi A4s for the forthcoming campaign, and will be run by Audi Sport Team Phoenix and Audi Sport Team Rosberg respectively. Legge – who becomes one of a select group of female drivers to have participated in the DTM, adding her name to a list that includes Susie Stoddart, Vanina Ickx and Ellen Lohr – will race an older, 2006-spec machine for Futurecom TME. Narrowing down the list of possible candidates, Dr Wolfgang Ullrich was keen to stress, was no easy task.
“We really couldn't complain about a lack of interest,” the Head of Audi Motorsport affirmed. “A lot of big-name drivers approached us, which shows just how interesting Audi and the DTM are. It was, however, clear from the off that we would stick to our strategy of further rejuvenating our driver squad and, quite logically, to nurture our own talent alongside our established stars.”
The trio impressed the Ingolstadt marque during a driver evaluation in Spain, and recently got acquainted with their new team-mates at Audi's winter training camp, which traditionally serves as a fitness check and team building event. They will join defending DTM champion and reigning double Race of Champions
winner Mattias Ekström, Martin Tomczyk, 'Mr Le Mans' Tom Kristensen and Timo Scheider – all in 2008 machinery entered by Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline – as well as Alex Prémat and Mike Rockenfeller behind the wheel of 2007 cars.
Whilst A1GP ace and Macau F3 Grand Prix winner Jarvis and Legge – the most successful woman ever to have competed in Champ Car circles – are newcomers to the pan-European tin-top series, Winkelhock is more of a known quantity, having raced in the DTM for Mercedes back in 2004 and stood in for the injured Tom Kristensen at Audi last season. The 27-year-old made waves last year when he sensationally led the field for Spyker on his Formula 1 debut in the rain-swept European Grand Prix in front of his home supporters at the Nürburgring.
Jarvis will partner Prémat at Audi Sport Team Phoenix, with Winkelhock going up against countryman Rockenfeller at Audi Sport Team Rosberg. Legge's Futurecom TME team-mate has yet to be revealed.
“I believe this is the strongest driver line-up since our comeback as a factory team in the DTM,” Ullrich added, clearly enthusiastic about the potential of his new young charges to help Audi defend its hard-fought 2007 crown.
“From the talent point-of-view, I'm sure we are well-represented for the impending tough battle against Mercedes-Benz and, furthermore, we have a driving squad that is very popular and will be well-supported by the Audi fans.”
The first public test days for the 2008 season will be held from 10 – 12 March at Mugello in Italy, and from 31 March – 2 April at the Motorsportarena Oschersleben in Germany.