DTM » 09 April 2008
Mercedes stars vow to return crown to Stuttgart.
Bernd Schneider is aiming to get his 2008 DTM bid for glory into gear in the best way possible by pulling off his tenth Hockenheim victory on Sunday to celebrate Mercedes' 20th anniversary in the series – though he acknowledges the opposition will be fierce.
The five-time DTM king has a strong track record around the circuit that traditionally plays host to the championship's curtain-raiser and season finale, with nine of his 42 series successes – a DTM record – having come there. Following a tough 2007 campaign, however, the vastly-experienced German has not triumphed at Hockenheim since the beginning of 2006 – a statistic he is hoping to set to rights this coming weekend.
Schneider recently participated in the DTM's annual presentation in Düsseldorf, saying that 'every year the programme has become more attractive and entertaining'. He is no doubt hoping the forthcoming season of eleven races across six countries – in Germany, Great Britain, Italy, France, Spain and the Netherlands – will prove to be just as much of a spectacle.
“I want to fight for the title,” the 43-year-old HWA works ace affirmed, “and preferably I will lay the foundations for it in Hockenheim. I did a lot of training for an optimum preparation.
“For me and my team-mates, racing for Mercedes-Benz means total commitment to give it our all. I really hope that at the end of the year the title will be back at Mercedes, and that I as a driver can contribute significantly to that.”
The ex-grand prix ace knows he will face stern competition, however, from 2008-spec Mercedes team-mates Bruno Spengler, Jamie Green and Paul di Resta. The former pairing have both won at Hockenheim before – Green in the final race of the 2007 campaign, only his second career triumph in the series – whilst tin-top sophomore di Resta twice finished in the points there during his rookie year in the DTM.
“My target is clear,” 2006 Hockenheim winner Spengler insisted. “After finishing runner-up twice in 2006 and 2007, I want to win the title this year. I will fight for it from the very first lap in Hockenheim.”
“In my six races at Hockenheim so far, I have started from pole position twice, posted four fastest race laps and taken one victory, in the 2007 season finale,” added Green. “I like the circuit and that's a good basis [from which] to repeat my win from the last race here.”
“Four podium finishes and fifth place overall last year were a reasonable balance of my rookie season,” said a determined di Resta, who has stepped up to the 'works' outfit for 2008. “I want to justify my promotion to the HWA team with more good results, and hopefully I will achieve the first one in Hockenheim.”
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