Heading into his second year in the DTM, Alex Prémat has set himself the goal of regular top five performances behind the wheel of his 2007-spec Audi A4 – and, he underlines, he wants to get his first series victory under his belt too.
After being involved in the hefty opening lap shunt in the Hockenheim curtain-raiser twelve months ago – a multi-car accident that left Audi team-mate Tom Kristensen hospitalised and out of action for a number of weeks – the Frenchman was similarly forced to skip round two at Oschersleben as he convalesced, but after breaking his points-scoring duck with seventh place at Brands Hatch, he went on to finish in the runner-up position at Zandvoort, just three tenths of a second shy of race-winner Martin Tomczyk.
He also displayed scintillating qualifying speed on occasion, four times beginning up in the top six and earning a best starting spot of third place at Brands Hatch. The former GP2 Series front-runner ended the campaign eleventh in the drivers' standings with 13 points to his name, and makes it clear he intends to do a good deal better still second time around.
“I am really happy that we will finally be racing again soon,” the Audi Sport Team Phoenix ace enthused. “This year I am racing for Audi in the DTM and the Le Mans Series. My goals for the DTM are clear – in qualifying and in the races, I want to be among the top five regularly.
“The car has a lot of potential – after all, Audi won the championship with this car last year – and, of course, I want to win races. I came quite close at Zandvoort.”
Whilst the 25-year-old – who will turn 26 on the day of qualifying for the first round of the 2008 campaign at Hockenheim this weekend – dismissed the notion that he would gain any benefit from racing in two different categories over the course of the season, he was nevertheless effusive about the prospects of his new mount – and about his relationship with rookie team-mate and fellow A1GP race-winner Oliver Jarvis.
“I don't think [competing in two series'] gives me an advantage,” he stressed. “The concept of the Audi A4 DTM is much different from the one of the Audi R10 TDI we are racing in the Le Mans Series. The balance of the car is much different.
“Of course I get a lot of driving experience, which is always good, but I have to find the right way to get used to the other car every time.
“The new [DTM] car is much easier to drive [than the one he drove last year]. It is more stable – both under braking and while accelerating out of the corners – and the top speed is higher. All-in-all, my impression of the car is very good. [It is] a good basis [from which] to reach my goals.
“I first got to know Oliver during the fitness camp. [He is] a nice guy and a fast driver. He has won the Macau Formula 3 race and you can only do so when you are a good driver. I will try and help him whenever I can, just like Christian [Abt – ex team-mate] helped me last year, but he won't be needing that much support from me. He knows what he has to do.”