Abt squad poised to take shot in the dark

Nurburgring pole sitter Laurent Aiello says Sunday's second round of the DTM will be a step into the unknown for the small Abt Sportsline Audi team

Abt squad poised to take shot in the dark

Former BTCC champion Aiello and 19-year-old team mate Martin Tomczyk will start from the front row on Sunday, with reigning champ Bernd Schneider of Mercedes right behind them in third on the grid. The 31-year-old Frenchman, who won Germany's Super Touring title in 1997 for Peugeot, says the late development of his Audi TT-R has meant a few educated guesses on set-up.

"I knew we'd have a competitive car here but it was quite a strange qualifying session," said Aiello. "It has been difficult to get the grip from the tyres. Sometimes you have it, sometimes you don't, and you had to get out on track at exactly the right moment. We haven't tested the car since Hockenheim, but we did what we thought would optimise it and we've reduced friction and things like that. We are working hard even when we're not testing on the track and it seems to be working.

"The car's not too bad for this track, we have less downforce than the Mercedes. With the four drivers working together we can get the best out of the car quicker. Last year we were so slow and so far down the order that we had to try many, many different things. This year, we're better organised and we can improve things little by little," he added.

"The pressure is on me to win races. Qualifying is important but, for me, it is the end result that matters. We have absolutely no experience of race conditions here with this car, we don't even know whether to use new or scrubbed tyres here tomorrow. I'm sure Merc knows exactly what to do, but at the moment we can't even guess."

His team boss Hans-Jurgen Abt says he thinks his French charger is in with a shout of winning this weekend.

"Our car was not too bad at Hockenheim, OK it was a bit slow but at least it was consistent," he said. "Laurent likes the Nurburgring, he's quick here. There is no pressure from me. We have proved what we can do in qualifying, now the next step is to prove it in the race, and maybe win. There is no rush, though - we have a lot of time now to improve our car."

Abt added that Aiello and Tomczyk would work together to aid the team's cause.

"I expect Laurent to be in front and, if he is, then I expect Martin to help him stay there somehow," he said. "I think this is a normal way of helping the team.

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Qualifying: Aiello heads Abt Audi one-two

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