In the wake of a disappointing 2010 DTM championship season, Audi has made some wholesale changes to its driving line-up, not only shuffling its existing roster of drivers between its newer and older-spec machines, but also appointing three rookie drivers to this year’s championship.
Part of the internal reshuffle sees former Le Mans 24 Hours winner Mike Rockenfeller (pictured right) swapping with Martin Tomczyk, with the former joining the Team Abt Sportsline outfit and its newer-spec machines, while Tomczyk moved to the Phoenix outfit and an older-spec A4.
“The last DTM season did not run according to plan for Audi,” said Audi Motorsport boss Dr Wolfgang Ullrich.
“[This] is why we tried over the winter to improve in every area – this also includes the driving squad. I see it as a chance for Tomczyk that he races in an older car and in a team other than Abt Sportsline for the first time.
“British race drivers [Jamie] Green and [Gary] Paffett are examples of the fact that you can certainly win races with a last year’s car and give his career new impetus,” he added.
Audi also confirmed the addition of three rookie drivers for the 2011 season, with Switzerland’s Rahel Frey, Portugal’s Filipe Albuquerque and Italy’s Edoardo Mortara joining the DTM Series.
Albuquerque, 25, is a former F1 test driver with Red Bull and Toro Rosso, and in 2010 he finished as the runner-up in the Italian GT Championship with two wins and ten podiums. Perhaps he is most famous for his wins in the 2010 Race of Champions, where he saw off the likes of Sebastian Vettel and Sébastien Loeb en route to taking the individual drivers’ title.
Mortara, 24, is also Swiss-born but races under the Italian flag. He is the reigning Formula 3 Euro Series champion, and the first dual winner of the Macau Formula 3 race. His lengthy association as a works Volkswagen driver has seen his aspirations of joining the DTM Series come to fruition.
“I’m convinced that they will be a genuine reinforcement to our driver squad and that we are in a good position for the 2011 season,” Ullrich added.