Exactly 182 days after Mattias Ekstr?m won the 2007 DTM title at Hockenheim, Audi's title defence begins at the same venue with a number of new faces backing up the Swede.

Among them, Katherine Legge knows that she may only have a small part to play in Ekstrom's - and Audi's - attempt to win back-to-back crowns as she embarks on a learning year with the Futurecom TME squad, but the 27-year old is determined not to be overshadowed.

Having given up a place on the Champ Car grid to make the switch to the DTM, Legge admits that she has a mountain to climb - with a new team, new car and new circuits to learn in addition to getting to used to a new championship - but is determined to make every lap count at the start of the season.

Related Articles

"It's going to be a little nerve wracking for me, making my Audi, DTM and Hockenheim debuts all in one go, but I'll be aiming to learn as much as possible about the A4 and the DTM in general and to do a professional job for Audi and Futurecom TME," she insisted.

"I'm really excited about my first DTM race with Audi - I can't wait to see what it's going to be like. It's important for me to get as many miles under my belt over the three days at Hockenheim."

Just one week later, the series reconvenes at Oschersleben, and Legge - who follows in the wheeltracks of former Audi 'lady pilots' Mich?le Mouton, Tamara Vidali and Vanina Ickx - is boosted by the knowledge that, while stablemate Timo Scheider was fastest of all in testing at the eastern German circuit, the Audi marque's older cars, which are allowed to run with less weight, have a good chance of posting respectable results as well.

Fellow newcomer Markus Winkelhock set the fastest time in the Mugello test, driving chassis number R13-403 - the very machine that Ekstrom drove to the title last season - for Audi Sport Team Rosberg. While Winkelhock, Mike Rockenfeller - who was fastest on the final day of testing at Oschersleben in Tom Kristensen's former A4 - Alexandre Pr?mat and rookie Oliver Jarvis all get 2007 machines, however, Legge and recently-confirmed team-mate Christijan Albers will be in A4s of 2006 vintage, but the British girl will take heart from the fact that she was immediately quicker than Mercedes rival Susie Stoddart - and just 97-thousandths of a second slower than Ralf Schumacher.

"I'm not really sure yet what to expect of my first DTM races, so I'm eager to see how a DTM weekend goes," Legge commented, "Particularly before the first races, there's a lot of nervous tension because I'm venturing out into new territory this season. I want to finish and learn. Afterwards, we'll analyse how things went and will continue moving forwards in our development."