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Hockenheim, 27 April, 2003

57,000 spectators witnessed the premiere of the new race format and third place for defending champion Laurent Aiello in an Abt-Audi TT-R at the opening race of the DTM season in Hockenheim. Mattias Ekström still collected a point despite encountering problems during the opening laps of the wet race. Audi Junior Martin Tomczyk, who started from the front row of the grid, held fourth place for a long time before loosing his chance of a top result during the pit stops. His team colleague Peter Terting, at 19 years of age the youngest driver in DTM history, was forced to retire after a spin on the first lap. Christian Abt retired shortly before the chequered flag.

The race at a glance

Start - Track dry, first rain drops,
#14 Tomczyk drops down to third place,
#1 Aiello fifth
Lap 1 - Rain starts to fall more heavily,
#15 Terting spins on the damp track and is forced to retire
Lap 2
#14 Tomczyk,
#1 Aiello,
#2 Abt,
#5 Ekström
#6 Wendlinger occupy positions fourth to eighth
Lap 3 - Safety Car due to heavy rain,
all Abt Audi drivers come in to the pits for a tyre change simultaneously,
#2 Abt
#5 Ekström lose time because they must wait until their team mates
#1 Aiello
#14 Tomczyk have been serviced
Lap 4 - Four laps behind the Safety Car race restarted
3rd Tomczyk
4th Aiello
6th Wendlinger
11th Ekström
14th Abt
Lap 7
#1 Aiello overtakes #14 Tomczyk
Lap 10
“Drive through“ penalty for #2 Abt for speeding in the pit lane
Lap 11
#6 Wendlinger collides with #18 Scheider
Lap 13
#2 Abt spins after being nudged by #16 Winkelhock
Lap 14 - The track is drying
#2 Abt is first driver to change to slicks
Lap 20
#14 Tomczyk changes to slicks, problem with the left front wheel, drops down to twelfth place
Lap 22
#1 Aiello overtakes #10 Alesi, but spins shortly afterwards and falls behind Alesi again
Lap 25
#1 Aiello reclaims second after #10 Alesi makes a mistake
Lap 28
#14 Tomczyk spins and loses the boot lid
Lap 30
#1 Aiello completes his second compulsory pit stop and falls behind #9 Fässler
Lap 33
#2 Abt slides of the circuit due to a sticking throttle
#1 Aiello finishes third only 0.290 seconds behind #9 Fässler
#5 Ekström earns a hard fought point

Laruent Aiello in the Abt-Audi TT-R #1
Laruent Aiello in the Abt-Audi TT-R #1
Laruent Aiello in the Abt-Audi TT-R #1
Mattias Ekström in the Abt-Audi TT-R #5
Martin Tomczyk's Abt-Audi TT-R before the start
Christian Abt in the Abt-Audi TT-R #2
Karl Wendlinger in the Abt-Audi TT-R #6
Audi Junior Martin Tomczyk in the Abt-Audi TT-R #14
Karl Wendlinger in the Abt-Audi TT-R #6

Laurent Aiello - Team Hasseröder Abt-Audi TT-R #1
“My goal was to finish in the points, which I managed and, as a consolation, even got on the podium. We learnt a lot this weekend. Our car is quick and was very consistent in the race. Things look good for the future races. The track and weather conditions were very difficult today, particularly in the rain during the opening laps on slicks.”

Martin Tomczyk (S line Audi Junior Team Abt-Audi TT-R #14)
“In spite of the bad luck I experienced during the pit stops I’m satisfied. My main target was to get to the finish, which I managed. I drove so that I felt safe, and changed from rain tyres to slicks at exactly the right time. Unfortunately, there was a problem with the left hand wheel at both pit stops and, as a result my chances of a better finish were over. My high speed spin was caused when I went a little off the dry line on slicks.”

Peter Terting (S line Audi Junior Team Abt-Audi TT-R #15)
“Obviously I expected my DTM debut to be a little different. I’m really very disappointed, but have learnt a terrific amount this weekend – more than all the tests together. In the warm-up this morning I drove a DTM car in the wet for the first time, I was very cautious. I pushed much harder during the race and touched the damps kerbs, the car snapped out of line and I had no chance to correct and prevent the spin.”

Hans-Jürgen Abt (Team Abt Sportsline Team Director)
“For us, the most important result from the weekend is that our new car is competitive and has potential. The entire team’s hard work over the winter has therefore paid off. Before this weekend we had no idea where we were. The target was to finish on the podium, which we managed. The track and weather conditions could hardly have been more difficult at the first race: The team had to familiarise themselves with the new format and, in addition the rain and a total of three pit stops.”

1 Bernd Schneider

Mercedes 37 laps

2 Marcel Fässler

Mercedes + 28.002s

3 Laurent Aiello

Abt-Audi TT-R + 28.292s

4 Jean Alesi

Mercedes + 38.467s

5 Christijan Albers

Mercedes + 1m 01.237s

6 Peter Dumbreck

Opel + 1m 16.749s

7 Timo Scheider

Opel + 1m 19.342s

8 Mattias Ekström

Abt-Audi TT-R + 1m 22.578s