Hans-Jurgen Abt Q&A

One of the biggest success stories of the 2002 motorsport year was the Abt Sportsline squad's defeat of the all-conquering AMG Mercedes outfit in the DTM. Laurent Aiello's success is going to be tough to repeat, but team principal Hans-Jurgen Abt is confident of challenging for honours once again. Charles Bradley spoke to him on the eve of the Hockenheim season-opener

Hans-Jurgen Abt Q&A



Testing has shown that our new car is competitive compared to the opposition. We have worked really hard over the winter to max out everything on the car. I think we've gone in the right direction, but we won't know until the first qualifying session for sure.



It is the same as before, except for quattro GmbH [an Audi factory-owned offshoot] backing two of our cars, which helps us a lot. On the marketing side there's a lot of improvement on last year. At the end of the day we're quite happy with the situation, and if we want to know anything then we have all the help we can from Audi, no problem.



We checked everything in the windtunnel over the winter. We want to make the cars as close as possible to make the series even more competitive. It's a small change, and I hope it will mean we have three race winners this year.



If there is a problem then we shall discuss it, but I think it should be enough for everybody. OK, for us we lose something, but if it's good for the series we must sort it out. We can't just have one or two cars winning, we must have three competitive manufacturers - then the drivers can sort the rest of the job out. It's up to them to do the business! It's not just that we're going out of our way to help Opel, we need to have the facility to allow the three cars to run at the front.



"It should be safe. The system will be like NASCAR, and it is safe over there. I think it adds to the competition, you can play more with the weight of the car and with tactics too. The race will be 160km and the tank is 70 litres, which is not enough, so we will have to stop. Having two pitstops is more exciting for the spectators. One point that must be a target for us is that the refuelling is faster than the tyre change, so the competition is still in the pitstop, not in the refuelling.



With the refuelling you can play with 20 or 30 kilos. With this type of car that's a minimum of two-tenths a lap, and that's going to be very important on the racetrack.



My job is always to win the championship, but that's what Norbert [Haug] at Mercedes and Volker [Strycek] at Opel are aiming for too. I think we're well prepared. The rest of my drivers are really hot to beat Aiello! I think we're in very good shape, the car looks like it's quick. The preparation for this year is definitely the best we have ever had.

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