Thompson awaits baptism of fire

James Thompson will undergo something of a baptism of fire at Oscherslaben this weekend. The Englishman will start his first race in the new DTM series with Audi team Abt - it will also be the first time Thompson has driven the car he will be racing

Thompson awaits baptism of fire

"I've never been in the car at all! It's a bit in at the deep end - but I like a challenge!" said the Honda BTCC driver.

Thompson is more normally associated with front wheel drive Super Touring cars, but is relishing the chance to sample the 450bhp rear wheel drive machine. Indeed, the last time the Yorkshireman drove a comparable machine was last September, in an F3000 test. Nevertheless, he is unfazed by the prospect.

"It's a car with four wheels and a steering wheel, so that shouldn't be too much of a hindrance," he claimed, simply.

The Abt Sportsline team struggled at the opening round of the DTM, understandably, as the cars had not run before the race meeting. However, prospects for Oscherslaben appear brighter.

"I think they've made good progress," suggested Thompson. "It's a pretty major achievement to get three cars on the grid with three months to design and build three cars. It's good going to say the least. They've done some testing now, and the cars have come on leaps and bounds. Until we start testing in anger tomorrow, we won't see how much progress we've made, but I think if we can get into the top ten this weekend then we'll be very happy.

The BTCC regular started the season as favourite for the British championship. However, injury problems after an enormous shunt at Brands Hatch, as well as Honda faltering at the start of the year, have contributed to Thompson being out of touch with the leaders. However, a win at Silverstone last weekend.meant things were looking up.

Nevertheless, Thompson will not compromise his commitment to running as much of the DTM as possible, even if he feels a shot - and it will be a long shot - at the BTCC leaders is a possibility.

"Having been disqualified twice this year, and missing four rounds, realistically, my chances are slim, my chances have taken a real beating. All I'm going to do is see if I can win as many races as possible," he claimed.

"I can do seven out of the nine rounds of the DTM, so I'm really looking forward to that. And obviously I'm going to do the rest of the BTCC. It'll keep me busy, and hopefully I can get some good results in both camps."

Roland Asch will also be making his DTM debut with Abt this weekend, as regular driver Christian Abt is at Le Mans.

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