ABT Sportsline travels to Zandvoort as DTM leaders

Even though the ABT Sportsline DTM team is still feeling the effects of the 24-hour race at the Nürburgring, everyone in the team is looking forward to the DTM weekend in Zandvoort. In the 25-year history of ABT Sportsline in the DTM, the team has had plenty of reasons to celebrate on the Dutch North Sea coast. The team has brought home the biggest DTM trophy from Zandvoort eight times and also celebrated its first DTM title there.

Hans-Jürgen Abt: “Zandvoort has always been a highlight”

“Zandvoort has always been a highlight on the DTM calendar and is associated with many positive memories for ABT Sportsline,” says Hans-Jürgen Abt, CEO of the ABT Group. “In 2002, we won our first DTM title there with Laurent Aiello after a real thriller. The party afterwards was also mega. I also remember 2008, when we celebrated a one-two-three-four victory as a team in Zandvoort and the best Mercedes was more than 20 seconds behind.”


ABT Sportsline travels to the North Sea as the leader in both classifications and won there last year on Sunday with Ricardo Feller from pole position. And the team recently showed that it can cope with an unusual schedule with a picture-perfect weekend at the Lausitzring.


At Zandvoort, the schedule is even crazier: due to a clash with the test day for the 24-hour race in Le Mans, which also affects ABT driver Kelvin van der Linde, Qualifying for the Sunday race will take place on Friday afternoon. The race itself will not start until 4:30 p.m. on Sunday. This will enable those drivers who are competing in Le Mans and Zandvoort to fly to France after the Saturday race and be back in Zandvoort in time for Sunday afternoon. ProSieben will be broadcasting live on both days as usual (Saturday from 1 p.m., Sunday from 4 p.m.).


Martin Tomczyk: “As a driver, Zandvoort was one of my favourite circuits”

The two ABT drivers Ricardo Feller and championship leader Kelvin van der Linde love Zandvoort, and Martin Tomczyk also has many positive memories of the dune circuit. As a racing driver, he stood on the podium five times in Zandvoort. The highlight was his victory in the 2007 season. Last year, he was able to stand on the podium for the first time in his new role as ABT Motorsport Director after Ricardo Feller’s victory. “As a driver, Zandvoort was one of my favourite circuits,” says the 2011 DTM champion. “The track is unique in the calendar in terms of its characteristics and is also in a great location. You always enjoy going there. However, overtaking is very difficult, which is why qualifying is particularly important at Zandvoort. Sunday will be very hard for the team due to the late start. It’s not ideal, but we have to get through it. I gave Kelvin the choice of commuting between Le Mans and Zandvoort. He is a professional and I am sure that he will still give 100 per cent on Sunday.”


Kelvin van der Linde: “Zandvoort is a real driver’s circuit”

“The fantastic weekend at the Lausitzring was a huge motivation for the whole team,” says championship leader Kelvin van der Linde. “It was good for the guys and girls to see that all the work of the last few weeks has paid off. They currently have a really tight programme and it has given everyone extra energy and motivation. I’m really looking forward to Zandvoort: It’s a driver’s track like in the old days, where mistakes are still punished as they should be. I like that and traditionally Zandvoort also suits our R8. In the race on Saturday, it will of course be a little more difficult with the success weight from the Lausitzring. I don’t see my trip to Le Mans as a disadvantage: I’ve already swapped racecars so many times this year that I’m in the flow and will be able to make this switch without any problems.”


Ricardo Feller: “I’m highly motivated and looking forward to Zandvoort”

Ricardo Feller is travelling to Zandvoort in third place in the standings. “The weekend at the Lausitzring was not ideal for me, but that’s long since been put behind me,” says the Swiss. “I think I could have done better than fifth and third place. That makes me hungry for more. I’m highly motivated again and looking forward to Zandvoort. Of course I hope to be able to build on last year’s success. With pole position and victory, it was a perfect Sunday. In principle, Zandvoort suits us, but of course we have to wait and see what the BoP looks like.”


The two ABT drivers about Zandvoort


It’s well known that you both like the Zandvoort circuit. Do you also like the surroundings?

Kelvin: “Of course I like Holland! I think I have ancestors from Holland somewhere in my family. I always enjoy travelling there. And if the weather is good in Zandvoort, it’s also a lot of fun to visit the beach clubs.”

Ricardo: “I like Holland and the North Sea, even though I’ve only seen the racetrack in Zandvoort so far. But I like everything I’ve seen so far and I’m always happy to go there.”


What are your best memories of Zandvoort?

Ricardo: “There are many. I think I’ve won something there every year I’ve driven there: my first victory in the GT Masters with Dries Vanthoor in 2019. Pole position and the first victory of the season in my championship year in the GT Masters in 2021. The victory in the 2023 DTM and then the GT World Challenge final last year, when we really delivered under very difficult conditions and still won the championship.”

Kelvin: “I won the GT World Challenge at Zandvoort in 2020. I think that was my biggest headline at Zandvoort so far.”


Which section of the track do you like best at Zandvoort?

Kelvin: “The second sector, where you go up the hill, and then the fast right-hander Scheivlak. It’s usually really on the limit there and the driver can make a big difference.”

Ricardo: “From turn 3 with the banking up to turns 7 and 8 – that’s my personal favourite. But the rest of the track also has a good flow and is a lot of fun.”


Where is the best place to overtake at Zandvoort?

Ricardo: “Overtaking is relatively difficult at Zandvoort too. The best place to do it is from the slipstream on the approach to Turn 1. But something can also happen at the exit of the corner towards Turn 2 and 3 if you can get alongside. But of course, as everywhere else, the most important thing is the qualifying.”

Kelvin: “Turn 1 and Turn 3 with the banking are the main spots for overtaking. But if it rains, almost anything is possible.”


Did you know that …


... Zandvoort, at around 800 kilometres, is the furthest track from Kempten on the current DTM calendar?


... Jean-Marie Pfaff, one of the world’s best football goalkeepers in the 1980s, will be visiting ABT Sportsline in Zandvoort once again for the DTM?


... British ski star Dave Ryding and his Dutch wife Mandy will be guests of ABT Sportsline and Schaeffler in Zandvoort?


... Ryding is supported by ABT partner Ötztal-Gurgl?


... Gurgl will be the venue for men’s and women’s World Cup ski races this year?


... Dave Ryding hopes that his ride in the DTM innovation taxi from ABT partner Schaeffler will not be cancelled this time, after it had to be cancelled at short notice last year in Oschersleben due to a change in the schedule?


... Mattias Ekström (2002) and Mike Rockenfeller (2011) both celebrated their first DTM wins with ABT Sportsline at Zandvoort?


... Ricardo Feller celebrated his 24th birthday last Saturday?