by Russell Atkins

Susie Stoddart was one of only two female racers in the DTM last season, but she gave the boys more than enough food for thought to suggest she will be an even greater threat in 2007.

The Scot jumped across to the DTM from British F3, and made steady and consistent progress throughout her maiden campaign in what is inarguably one of the world's foremost tin-top series. Here she explains how she intends putting everything she learnt to good use as she heads into her sophomore season in the championship...

Q:
Susie, how are your plans looking for the year ahead?

Susie Stoddart:
Everything has come together well. I've been re-signed by Mercedes to continue in the DTM, and now I'm really looking forward to the season.

Q:
And looking to put all you learnt in your debut campaign last year into practice second time around..?

SS:
Yeah. Last year was a positive year but for sure there's a lot I need to improve on, and I do aim to do that this year.

Q:
How tough was your first season in the series overall?

SS:
There was a lot to learn. Obviously there are pit-stops, the races are much longer and there's all the strategies to take into account. I feel like I learnt a lot but I still have a lot left to learn too.

Q:
How much of a transition was it from single-seaters across to tin-tops?

SS:
It is a big difference, but it's fine once you get used to it. The car is actually very similar to an F3 car to drive.

Q:
What would you say was the hardest thing you had to adjust to during the year?

SS:
I think the fact you are doing an hour-long race, with all the tyre degradation and strategies involved in that, and you are not always having to just go flat-out all the time. That took a bit of getting used to. You are also up against drivers of the calibre of Bernd Schneider and Tom Kristensen, who are so completely on top of their game that you have to get everything perfect just to get on the same lap as them.

Q:
As you say, the DTM boasts some top names like Schneider, Kristensen and Mika Hakkinen. Did the other Mercedes drivers teach you much or was it more a case of everyone out for themselves?

SS:
I have to say I was welcomed into Mercedes-Benz with open arms. It really is like a big family there. Bernd and Mika were both very supportive, and Bruno Spengler as well. Everyone works together to make sure as many Mercedes drivers are as far up the grid as possible.

Q:
How did it feel to race in front of your home crowd at Brands Hatch?

SS:
It was brilliant. It was a little sad that I wasn't further up the grid and so wasn't able to produce a better result, but it was so nice to see all the Scottish flags waving and so many familiar faces. It turned out to be a great race and I think it will be another great race this year.

Q:
You were one of only two female drivers in the field last year. Was there any particular rivalry between yourself and Vanina Ickx?

SS:
There was no rivalry. I was in no great battle with Vanina. For me she was just another driver out there, and it didn't matter that she was a girl too. I was just aiming to do the best job I could.

Q:
Turning your attentions to the season in hand then, what do you think you can achieve this year?

SS:
That will all depend on the car that I'm given and which team I'm in. Obviously that's up to Mercedes, but I will be giving everything I can for sure. I want to get some points this year.

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