DTM title chase begins for ABT Sportsline

ABT Sportsline’s chase for the DTM title begins at Motorsport Arena Oschersleben near Magdeburg during the Whitsun weekend (both races live on ProSieben from 1 PM CEST on Saturday and Sunday). The team from Kempten will field two ABT Audi R8 LMS GT3 evo II cars in 2023, driven by Ricardo Feller (22/Switzerland) and Kelvin van der Linde (26/South Africa). For the new ABT Motorsport Director Martin Tomczyk, there is only one motto: “Full attack! We are competing in the DTM to become the champions. We want to lay the foundation for this right from the start. We have seen in the past years that every point can count at the end of the DTM season.”

ABT Sportsline is the world’s leading tuner of VW and Audi Group vehicles and the most successful active DTM team. Since 2000, the team of Hans-Jürgen Abt and Thomas Biermaier has been an integral part of the popular racing series. The Bavarian team has contested 301 DTM races so far – all with the Audi brand. The impressive tally: five drivers’ championships, five teams’ titles, 73 victories, 238 podiums and 87 pole positions. In 16 of the 23 years, at least one ABT driver finished in the top 3 of the overall standings.

DTM champion at the helm

It is a painful fact that the drivers’ title slipped through the team’s fingers three times in a row at the season finale. This is one of the reasons why the team has been partly restructured in recent months. Martin Tomczyk, a former DTM champion who competed for ABT Sportsline in the DTM for ten years and knows the racing series very well as a manager, is now at the helm. Christian Engelhardt has been promoted to be the DTM project manager. Kelvin van der Linde has a new race engineer in Leon Wippersteg and team management has been taken over by Angelie Krampitz.

ABT Sportsline has left nothing to chance in the preparation for the season. The two ABT Audi R8 LMS GT3 evo II cars were meticulously prepared in the Motorsport Centre in Kempten during the winter and completely rebuilt once again after the official test days at the Red Bull Ring. After a final shakedown, the drivers gave the team the thumbs-up and praised the entire DTM crew, who also took part in the Nürburgring 24 Hours last weekend.

ABT Sportsline is supported in the DTM title chase by a whole series of strong partners. Audi Sport customer racing, Fujitsu, H&R, Hylo, MAN, Metzner, Ötztal-Gurgl, Ravenol, Remus, Riedel, Schaeffler, Scherer, Sonax, Südpack and TM Performance support the team, some of them also technically. “Some of these partnerships have been in place for many years,” ABT Sports Marketing Director Harry Unflath says proudly. “Without our partners, ABT Sportsline would not be so successful in the DTM.”

Kelvin van der Linde: “Oschersleben is one of my favourite tracks”

Kelvin van der Linde will also compete in the DTM in 2023 with an ABT Audi R8 LMS GT3 evo II in a black base colour. The South African, who lives near Kempten, can hardly wait for things to finally get underway at Oschersleben: “The new DTM season is starting very late. But for us as a team, and also for me, it’s not so bad. I was involved in the Nürburgring 24 Hours project and had three races in Formula E. Now I’m really looking forward to the DTM and Oschersleben, one of my favourite tracks, where I’ve already celebrated many successes. I took my first pole position in the ADAC GT Masters there and also my first victory. My goal is to start the new season on a positive note and collect lots of points.”

Ricardo Feller: “The track is good for our car”

Ricardo Feller’s fans don’t have to get used to anything either: his ABT Audi R8 LMS GT3 evo II kept the same basic blue colour. The Swiss driver also has good memories of the circuit in the Magdeburger Börde region – including a victory in the 2022 ADAC GT Masters: “Oschersleben is definitely not my favourite circuit on the DTM calendar, but it’s a track that has always been good for our car. We had a few problems last year in the second half of the season. Those have been solved in the meantime. I’m more motivated than ever and trying to do things better that didn’t go so well in my first DTM season. I hope that shows in the form of results.”

ABT Sportsline has contested a total of 19 DTM races at Oschersleben from 2000 to 2015 and has clinched five victories at the Motorsport Arena, most recently with Mattias Ekström in 2011. Martin Tomczyk will never forget this race either: “I was fighting for the DTM title at the time and had my worst qualifying result with 15th on the grid. Then in the race, in the pouring rain, without a front bonnet and with a bit of luck, I managed to move up to second place. That was a very important step towards the championship title.”

Martin Tomczyk: “We’re in perfect shape as a team”

For Tomczyk, Oschersleben is a good place to start the DTM season: “In terms of the fans, it has always been a great event. However, we also know from the past that overtaking at Oschersleben is not that easy. That’s why qualifying will be very important. We are well prepared and are in perfect shape as a team. Of course, it is difficult to assess where we stand compared to the competition. There are some innovations under the new DTM organiser ADAC. Oschersleben will be the first chance to see  where we stand, and we’re all very excited about it.”

ABT driver Kelvin van der Linde on ...

... the special features of the track at Oschersleben: “The track is very technical. The car has to be set up very well and the driver has to have confidence in the car. It’s a driver’s circuit where track limits are not an issue. If you go over the limit, you’re in the gravel or on the grass – I like that.”

... the coolest section: “The fast triple left hander – you have to give everything there. You can always get a lot out of it, especially in qualifying. If you’re in a good mood and have confidence in the car, you can find the last two or three tenths there.”

... the best overtaking opportunity: “Overtaking is really only possible by taking a lot of risk at the end of the back straight. Qualifying will be very important. In the race, it’s all about strategy to get to the front.”

... the best place to watch: “There are always an incredible number of spectators at Oschersleben, and the best atmosphere is in the grandstand on the start-finish straight – that’s definitely where I would be as a fan.”

Video for download: A lap with Kelvin van der Linde at Oschersleben

Did you know that ...

... British ski star Dave Ryding will be a guest of ABT Sportsline and Schaeffler at Oschersleben on Saturday and Sunday?

... the two ABT drivers Ricardo Feller and Kelvin van der Linde spent a day on the ski slopes of Gurgl in the Ötztal with Dave Ryding before the start of the season?

... Kelvin van der Linde will set a benchmark time in the Schaeffler simulator at all DTM races again this year which DTM fans can try to beat?

... Ricardo Feller and Kelvin van der Linde stopped off at Fujitsu in Munich on their way back from the DTM test at the Red Bull Ring and took delivery of two new Fujitsu notebooks there?   

... both ABT DTM drivers celebrate their birthdays between the DTM events in Oschersleben and Zandvoort? Feller turns 23 on June 1, van der Linde 27 on June 20.