Paul di Resta has moved into a position to challenge for the DTM Drivers' Championship after finishing second on home turf at Brands Hatch last weekend – and now the Mercedes-Benz star is confident he can go all the way.
In only his second season in the pan-European tin-top series following his F3 Euroseries title success back in 2006, di Resta is certainly making the most of the 2008-spec machinery at his disposal, consummately triumphing from pole position at the Eurospeedway Lausitz back in May and taking three further runner-up spots to boot to hoist himself up into joint second place in the standings with three races left to run – and 30 points still up for grabs.
Despite running ten kilograms heavier than Audi rival Timo Scheider at Brands, the Scot qualified less than a tenth of a second adrift of the championship leader before going on to track him closely throughout the 82-lap race – though never quite closely enough to be able to mount a challenge for victory.
“It was a good result to finish in the top two,” the former McLaren/Autosport BRDC Young Driver of the Year
reflected, speaking to Crash.net Radio
. “It was a very strong performance, I think, both on the team's behalf and my behalf considering the weight penalty we had compared to Audi.
“I think in terms of race performance we had a little bit on them at Brands; I think if we'd started in front it would have made a little bit of a difference, but they did a good job in qualifying and they deserved it. We just need to work on our progress over the whole weekend and certainly move forward, but as a team performance I think we did a good job.
“I was praying for a bit more rain during the race – there was just a little bit of a spit – or maybe some backmarkers to put Timo a little bit under pressure, but all credit to him. I followed him for 82 laps and he didn't crack under the pressure.
“It's a difficult thing to accept, but we must go on. We've got to look up; we've had two second places [in the last two races], and if you look at the results we're certainly showing very strongly and I think we can continue that form in Barcelona.”
That much is indisputable, and as he both looks back over his season to-date and ahead to the challenge that remains over the final three outings – beginning in a fortnight's time, at a circuit where last year he finished up on the podium – di Resta is in bullish mood.
“You always want more as a driver,” the 22-year-old mused, “and I want more, but I'm learning a lot and moving forward and I just hope I can continue the form we've had for the last year-and-a-half.
“I think I have a great chance [of winning the championship this year]. I'm sure it could change two or three times before the end of the year – the DTM is very close, and it can change weekend-to-weekend. All I can do is give it maximum attack, and I'm sure that Mercedes will be strong enough to go for that.”
by Russell Atkins