Looking back over her 2008 DTM campaign to-date, Mercedes star Susie Stoddart is positive that her recent improvements have been 'encouraging' - even if her home outing at Brands Hatch last weekend ultimately ended in disappointment and frustration.

The Scot entered the only British round on the calendar hoping for a strong showing in front of her partisan supporters. With just 18th position on the grid and last place in the race - following a subsequent 30-second penalty for contact with Audi rival Katherine Legge - it didn't exactly work out that way.

"It was a really tough weekend for us," Stoddart reflected, speaking to Crash.net Radio. "We made a good start in the race and had good pace, but I think maybe our strategy was a little bit wrong - we stayed out for too long.

"The problem at Brands is if you run into traffic you lose so much time, because with the new 'three blue flag' rule you have to move over and let the car past, and that really did cost me. I came out on new tyres and straight into traffic, and wasn't able to bang in some quick laps, but that's part of the game.

"The team were expecting a bit more rain to come too, and if it had come we would have been in a better position. That's the way it goes sometimes, though - it was just unfortunate."

Be that as it may, the 25-year-old has made solid progress of late, qualifying inside the top 15 at both the Norisring and N?rburgring and finishing respectively tenth and twelfth in the races, in the former barely five seconds away from registering the first point of her three-year career in the fiercely-competitive pan-European tin-top series.

"It's been encouraging," she acknowledged. "It's difficult this year - it's very competitive - but all I can do is the best I can. I've been very close to my team-mates, and they're the only people in the same car as me, so that has to be my main goal."

Stoddart is also optimistic about the chances of her three-pointed star colleagues Jamie Green and Paul di Resta, who currently both sit nine points adrift of Audi's championship leader Timo Scheider with three races - and 30 points - remaining.

"I don't know what the weight situation will be like now," she mused. "I think to be honest, Brands was a very, very strong performance from Mercedes-Benz considering they were heavier over the weekend.

"We saw that last season Brands Hatch is more of an Audi race track, so to come here this year and for Mercedes to do as well as they have done I think was a real, real boost for us. I think we're in a good position going into the last three races.

"As for personal goals, they are to beat my team-mates in the same car, and for sure I'd love to get another couple of top ten finishes too."

by Russell Atkins



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