ABT, the DTM and the Nürburgring: a love story

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04 DTM Rollout Zolder 210803 17 ABT, the DTM and the Nürburgring: a love story

The first half of the DTM season will come to an end at the Nürburgring next weekend. The results of the ABT Sportsline team, which is starting as a private team in the DTM for the first time since 2003, is impressive: Kelvin van der Linde has already won two races and leads the drivers' standings by 21 points. ABT Sportsline is also in first place in the team ranking. Just like van der Linde, Mike Rockenfeller has scored points in all six races so far. The expectations ahead of the two races on the Nürburgring sprint course (Saturday and Sunday from 13 p.m. live on SAT.1 and ran.de) are correspondingly high, especially since ABT Sportsline has particularly good memories of the traditional course in the Eifel. In 31 starts, the team around Hans-Jürgen Abt and Thomas Biermaier has celebrated 13 victories and achieved a further twelve podium finishes. This also includes very special triumphs.

ABT, the DTM and the Nürburgring

May 6, 2001 in particular will be unforgettable in Johann-Abt-Strasse in Kempten. On that Sunday, the Frenchman Laurent Aiello with the compact Abt-Audi TT-R clinched the first victory for the ABT Sportsline team in the DTM at the Nürburgring. "For us today is one of the most important days in our company's history," said Hans-Jürgen Abt at the time. “We had to take a lot in the past season. But we never gave up, we kept fighting. This success belongs to every single team member. "

08 3Q2R1972 ABT, the DTM and the Nürburgring: a love story

The Abt-Audi TT-R developed by ABT Sportsline was almost unbeatable on the Nürburgring. In August 2001, Aiello also won the second Nürburgring race of the season. In 2002, the Frenchman had to admit defeat to Uwe Alzen in a Mercedes by just 0,348 seconds in a photo finish. The fact that he was able to keep Bernd Schneider behind was a very important step on the way to later winning the title. In 2003 Aiello was once again ahead of ABT Sportsline - again after an exciting duel with Uwe Alzen.

With his three victories, Aiello is still the most successful ABT driver at the Nürburgring to this day. Mattias Ekström, Martin Tomczyk, Nico Müller and Robin Frijns triumphed twice each. The other two trophies come from Edoardo Mortara and Miguel Molina.

Today's SAT.1 expert Martin Tomczyk was extremely strong at the Nürburgring: in 2007 and 2009 he dominated the Eifel at will and then spoke of "fairly easy races".

Miguel Molina's victory in Sunday's race in 2015 was also unusual: the Spaniard needed 67 attempts for his first victory in the DTM, which was all the more pronounced with a 7,5-second lead.

02 DTM Zolder 210807 race web 99 ABT, the DTM and the Nürburgring: a love story

Mattias Ekström achieved a completely different feat at the Nürburgring: The Swede secured pole position in the DTM's first night qualifying in 2003. Ekström also has dark memories of the sprint course, on which the time gaps in qualifying are usually minimal: in 2015, in the middle of the exciting battle for the title, he found himself in 17th position twice in the middle of the exciting battle for the title.

For ABT Sportsline last year it went almost like a picture book: due to the pandemic, four DTM races were held on the Nürburgring within eight days. The team from Kempten won all four and even crowned the Allgäu Nürburgring Festival with a double victory - just like two weeks ago in Zolder.

In 20 years of the DTM at the Nürburgring, there have of course been setbacks. In 2003 Mattias Ekström was clearly in the lead, but there was a problem with the right rear wheel during both pit stops. In 2006 the Swede started with too little speed and was passed through to 14th place. In 2017, “Eki” switched from rain tires to slicks in the Saturday race at the exact moment when it was just starting to rain again.

In 2008, the often capricious Eifel weather made for one of the strangest scenes in DTM history: Because the meteorologist hired by Audi predicted heavy rain during the warm-up lap, all Audi drivers set off on a dry track with rain tires - a fatal mistake, as it was should turn out shortly afterwards. ABT Sportsline tried to limit the damage in that Mattias Ekström and Timo Scheider came back to the pits at the end of the introductory lap to switch back to slicks. Today's ABT driver Mike Rockenfeller started from row one, but had no chance with the rain tires on a dry track.

03 DTM Rollout Zolder 210803 10 ABT, the DTM and the Nürburgring: a love story

Markus Winkelhock, on the other hand, has fond memories of the Eifel weather: in 2007 Winkelhock made Formula 1 history at the Nürburgring when he replaced Christijan Albers at Spyker and led the Grand Prix on his debut in the early stages after being the only driver to record before the start Had changed rain tires. This weekend, the Swabian is driving the ABT Audi R8 LMS with starting number 99, which is normally driven by Sophia Flörsch. The 20-year-old is absent due to an overlap with the Le Mans 24-hour race.

Quotes before the DTM races at the Nürburgring

Thomas Biermaier (Team Principal Team ABT Sportsline): “It is a positive signal that races can be driven again on the Nürburgring after the terrible flood disaster. The region lives from motorsport and major events like the DTM. The Eifel is not our home, but for ABT it is like a second home. We have driven a lot of races at the Nürburgring and celebrated our first victory in the DTM there in 2001. There are now 69. That means our next success will be a well-rounded affair. Kelvin and Mike can be trusted to do that in the DTM at any time. And I'm really excited to see where Markus will fit himself in with the space drive system at the Nürburgring. "

Kelvin van der Linde (ABT Audi R8 LMS # 3): “In the past I had a lot of cool ADAC GT Masters races at the Nürburgring. I feel good there. We didn't test at the Nürburgring, so it's a bit new territory for us as a team. Still, I think our package fits. We have shown that with our ABT Audi R8 LMS we can do well on any type of track - whether 'high downforce' or 'low downforce'. Therefore, the goal is again to expand the lead in the championship. "

00 DTM Zolder 210808 web 55 ABT, the DTM and the Nürburgring: a love story

Mike Rockenfeller (ABT Audi R8 LMS # 9): “I'm really looking forward to the Nürburgring for a number of reasons: After the Lausitzring and Zolder, I have some tailwind. It's still kind of a home race for me. And we have spectators on site again. My speed with the car was good recently, so I'm hoping for two good results. The track is demanding and you should perhaps be able to overtake a little better than the last time in Zolder. I expect exciting races. And qualifying will be super tight and decisive again. "

Markus Winkelhock (ABT Audi R8 LMS # 99): “I drove for ABT for the first time in Oschersleben in 2007. At that time I was substitute for Tom Kristensen, who had a serious accident in Hockenheim. That was my very first race for Audi in the DTM. To be back in the DTM after ten years of abstinence and to be able to take the wheel again for ABT so many years later is something very special. I'm really looking forward to it. The Nürburgring is one of my favorite tracks. So I hope that I can get a good result there for ABT. "

01 ABT DTM MONZA 2021 170 ABT, the DTM and the Nürburgring: a love story

Did you know that …

  • ... there will be a guest at the ABT Sportsline command post at the Nürburgring? A bidder from the Allgäu auctioned the space for 6.000 euros in favor of the #wirfuerdieeifel campaign.
  • ... the auction brought in a total of 10.000 euros for the victims of the flood disaster? ABT partner HYLA donated 2.500 euros for #wirfuerdieeifel, ABT Sportsline donated a further 1.500 euros for the “Remus Charity Night”.
  • … Kelvin van der Linde and Mike Rockenfeller will answer questions from DTM media representatives at the Zoom press conference on Wednesday at 11 am?
  • ... Markus Winkelhock will take part in the DTM press conference on Friday?
  • … ABT partner Fujitsu “kidnap” Kelvin van der Linde and his ABT Audi R8 LMS for filming on the Nürburgring-Nordschleife on Thursday evening?
  • ... Mike Rockenfeller is back on Instagram to the delight of his fans at rockenfeller.mike?
  • … Kelvin van der Linde supported the Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler team at the final of the Formula E World Championship in Berlin in the simulator between the DTM races in Zolder and at the Nürburgring?
  • … Sophia Flörsch will start the 24-hour race in Le Mans next weekend and would like to follow the DTM events “as closely as possible” from there?

Of course, that wasn't the end of it!

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