Mike Rockenfeller has expressed his excitement at being promoted to Audi’s Abt Sportsline squad for this year’s DTM series, after spending the previous four seasons racing in the less-competitive older-spec A4s.
Rockenfeller – who was also part of Audi’s Le Mans-winning line-up last year – earned his promotion on the back of a strong 2011 season with Team Phoenix, where he earned five points’ finishes and a podium en route to finishing seventh in the Drivers’ Championship.
Rockenfeller replaces Martin Tomczyk in the Abt team’s line-up for the 2011 season, partnering Oliver Jarvis, Timo Scheider and Mattias Ekström in the manufacturer’s 2009-spec cars.
But with this coming season being the last before the new car models come in for the 2012 season, Rockenfeller is keeping a level head when asked about his hopes for the 2011 season.
“It was an important step for me to be able to fight for the top positions in the DTM with the latest car,” he said. “In particular with a view to 2012 when everybody starts with new material and another manufacturer [BMW] joins, 2011 is important as a preparation season.
“I’ve known the DTM and Audi now for four years, but there is also plenty to learn. I race for the first time for Abt, with a new engineer to me, and we all receive tyres from new partner Hankook.
“I won’t be setting my sights to high for exactly these reasons, but under no circumstances is it just a learning season. Results must be plain to see.”
Rockenfeller confirmed that Audi has also offered him a dual racing programme, allowing him to dovetail his DTM commitments with selected sports car events with the manufacturer, including the opportunity to defend his Le Mans win.
“What could possibly be better than contesting the DTM and defending the title at Le Mans?” he asked.
[Original image via Flickr]