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A few days after you were officially honored as 2013 DTM Champion, ADAC selected you as Motorsportsman of the Year. What does this recognition mean to you?
“I didn’t expect this accolade at all. There are so many successful German racers this year that would have deserved this recognition at least as much as I. That’s why I’m really happy about it, especially since the judging panel is made up of true motorsport experts. Ultimately, this recognition also proves the high prestige which the DTM enjoys in our motorsport landscape.”
After the DTM season finale, you’re being flooded with commitments. For instance, on Tuesday at 11:00 you’ll be a guest at the press conference of the Essen Motor Show. Is this flood of commitments more of a joy or a burden for you?
“I feel that it’s an enjoyable burden. If I hadn’t become champion, I’d be off now. So these commitments are also a form of recognition for the things my team and I’ve achieved in this season. And particularly of the Motor Show in Essen I’ve got fond memories. Years ago, that’s where I found out that I’d won the evaluation as a Porsche Junior. That marked my entry into professional motorsport and was thus a very important day in my career.”
Will you still find time to celebrate your 30th birthday on October 31?
“We’re going to celebrate my actual birthday in a quiet setting just with family. On November 2, there’ll be a big title party in the Eifel village at the Nürburgring. That’ll give me an opportunity to clink glasses with my team for my 30th birthday as well!”…!”
Looking back, was there a key race on your way toward the DTM title?
“Actually, not just one, but several. The first victory of the season at Brands Hatch, at an early stage of the season, was confirmation for all of us at Audi Sport that our work over the winter had been in the right direction. But the races at the Norisring and the Nürburgring were special too. In Nuremberg, after a poor qualifying session and transmission change, I only started from position 21. In the Eifel, after a spin in turn one in which I wasn’t at fault, I was even running in last place. In spite of this, we managed to finish both races in the top five and to score important points. Races like these are the ones that decide a championship.”
On the occasion of the DTM success, Audi is producing a limited ‘A5 DTM Champion’
special-edition model. That would be the right company car for you, wouldn’t it?
“Of course it would, and I’d very much like to have car number one. But, seriously, I’m driving an Audi RS 6 as a company car and am very happy with it.”