Audi's last step will be the toughest, says Aiello

Laurent Aiello believes that Audi's spectacular rise in DTM form could have reached a plateau, despite delivering the marque its best dry weather qualifying position of the season

Audi's last step will be the toughest, says Aiello

The 1999 BTCC champion put his Abt Sportsline-built and run TT-R ninth on the grid for race one at the Nurburgring and posted the second-best time in the morning's pair of free practice sessions, but with only the Hockenheim finale to go, he believes that further improvement will be difficult.

"I'm very pleased with the result, but further progress is going to be difficult," said Aiello, who also gave Audi its best race finish of the year when he finished fifth in an attrition-heavy race one at Oschersleben last month.

"We've been getting closer and closer every race, but I think that the final four or five tenths are the hardest to find, and time is running out for us."

Aiello says that the TT-R needs a major aerodynamic revamp to turn it into a serious contender - something the DTM rules will allow only at the end of the season - but praised the privateer Abt squad for the progress it had made.

"It's unbelievable if you think about it," he said. "All the work we've done is paying off and the car is now close to the pace and fun to drive. I'm actually driving it now, whereas before it was driving me. And don't forget that we're usually closer to the pace during the race than we are in qualifying."

Audi has so far refused to give its official backing to the Abt programme, but Aiello says he hopes the late-season progress will lead to direct support from Ingolstadt. The Frenchman has yet to officially confirm his plans for 2001, but looks likely to stay with Abt in the DTM, with a works Audi seat at the Le Mans 24 Hours a potential add-on to his programme.


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