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McNish gets DTM Audi

Former grand prix racer Allan McNish has joined Audi's DTM squad for 2005 as it attempts to keep the title it wrested away from Mercedes-Benz this year. McNish joins an eight-car line-up featuring fellow former Le Mans winners Tom Kristensen and Rinaldo Capello

Audi's eight-car squad will again be run by Abt Sportsline and Team Joest. It has retained the quartet from last year of champion Mattias Ekstrom, Kristensen, Martin Tomczyk and Christian Abt, although the latter will be demoted to a 2004-spec car. Newcomer McNish will drive a 2005 machine, while fellow newcomers Capello, Pierre Kaffer and Porsche Cup champion Frank Stippler will have to make do with old machinery.

Team Joest's DTM drivers from 2004, Frank Biela and Emanuele Pirro, will return to Audi's R8 sportscar programme and will also gear up for the successor to the dominant machine. They are joined by Marco Werner, and will be supported by some of the DTM line-up for the Le Mans 24 Hours.

McNish commented: "The DTM has got a very high pedigree of drivers, some from Formula 1 like Mika [Hakkinen], plus some unfamiliar faces for me like Gary Paffett but no matter anyone's background, there is not one person racing who wants to finish second. DTM will be new territory for me but having visited the championship finale this year I can confirm the racing is very fast and furious. I will give 100 per cent but being a DTM new boy, I am not going to make any predictions."

"I enjoy working with Audi and their clear and decisive mentality suits me," continued the Scot. "Additionally, many people from the ultra-successful Audi R8 programme are also involved in the DTM project. When I came back from F1 I wanted to return to Le Mans and Audi after driving for them in 2000. There were many reasons but the two important ones were they know how to win and we work well together."

McNish has not raced contemporary touring car before, but does not reckon that will be a problem. "It is not going to be easy for me," he said, "and I am going to have to learn the tricks of the trade but I watched Tom's [Kristensen] progress this year coming from a similar background and he was competitive.

"I am really excited about this programme and can't wait to start. I still get the same feeling now as when I started karting almost 25 years ago and combining that passion with hard work and effort from myself and the team I know we can be successful."

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