First season victory for Audi driver Aiello
They had to wait six races. At the Nurburgring the time had come: Laurent Aiello managed the first season victory for the Audi Team in the DTM. The defending DTM champion drove 41 laps on the Nurburgring's sprint course leading by 1.387 seconds as he crossed the finish line, leaving the others without a chance to catch him. "It's been a while since we have achieved such a result. It feels a little like the first victory of my career," explained a champagne soaked Aiello.
"From outside, it looked simple, but it wasn't. My car was very steady, and what's more is that my pit crew were great. We had a perfect strategy. I am very happy. In the last couple of races, I had already had the chance to get such good results, but a lot went wrong. Everything worked out today." This triumph has pulled Aiello up from seventh place to fourth in the drivers' points standings.
Mattias Ekstrom completed Audi's success with his fourth place. Though there could have been more in it for the Swede, because he was in good form for the whole racing weekend. The climax: Ekstrom won the Super Pole qualifying, the first time in DTM history that it had taken place after dark. "My car was perfect the whole weekend. Unfortunately, after my first pit stop, I couldn't match the pace of the leaders and lost a few positions," explained Ekstrom. "After my second stop, I was able to catch up and even gained on Bernd Schneider. If I had had a couple of more laps, I would have been able to make a move." Karl Wendlinger finished eleventh.
The other three Abt-Audi drivers retired early. Martin Tomczyk, who began the race in fourth place, lost his chance to finish in the points because of gearbox problems, as did Christian Abt. "I was right up there with the leaders. It's a shame," said the aggravated Junior Tomczyk. Also Peter Terting, Tomczyk's teammate in the S line Audi Junior Team, did not get to see the chequered flag after a competitor damaged his left rear suspension on the second lap and thus forced him to pull out of the race later on.
Team Director Hans-Jurgen Abt summarised how the team was feeling:
"A large burden has been lifted from our shoulders. The team never gave up and put up an excellent fight to make this victory possible."
Audi wins Mosport thriller
Two weeks after their victory at Trois-Rivières, Audi drivers Frank Biela and Marco Werner also won the second Canadian round of the American Le Mans Series (ALMS). With their hard earned victory at Mosport, the two Germans extened their lead in the ALMS overall classification to 18 points.
In front of an impressive crowd, the fifth round of the 2003 ALMS was one of the season's most exciting races. In qualifying, the lighter LMP675 prototypes were able to exploit, as expected, their weight advantage. Behind two MG Lolas, Johnny Herbert/JJ Lehto and Frank Biela/Marco Werner had to be content with third and fourth positions on the grid in their Audi R8 racers, entered by Audi customer teams ADT Champion Racing and Infineon Team Joest. However, only a great effort from the Joest mechanics enabled Frank Biela to take part in the qualifying session. After an accident in the last practice session just before qualifying, which badly damaged the front section, the Joest crew repaired the R8 within only 45 minutes.
In the race, Infineon Team Joest's pit-crew also played a decisive role. After one of the two MG Lolas had to start from pit-lane, because of an accident during the warm-up session, and the Dyson team's second car dropped back due to technical problems after leading the race at the beginning, a fierce battle for victory raged between the two Audi customer teams. Perfectly timed and fast pit-stops allowed the Joest Team's Audi R8 to come out in front of the Champion Audi every time.
In the final and decisive hour of the race, leader Marco Werner came under massive pressure from Johnny Herbert. 30 minutes from the end, a mere 0.343 seconds seperated the two leading Audi R8 racers, they even touched once. The race was decided, when Johnny Herbert collided with a slower GT car 19 minutes from the end in the sequence of corners before start and finish. Touching a kerb, he damaged the right front suspension of the Audi R8. Due to the repairs, the Champion Team lost 14 laps, but still finished fourth in the LMP900 class.
"This was team-work par excellence," enthused Ralf Juttner, Technical Director of Infineon Team Joest. "The crew has won this race, everything went perfect: The pit-stops were top and our strategy absolutely right." While Frank Biela and Marco Werner celebrated their third joint overall victory in the ALMS, Johnny Herbert could not hide his disappointment. "I can't believe the driving standards of some of these guys. I was comfortable bringing down the gap to Marco (Werner), the car was really good, but I got stuck in traffic each. The Porsche braked early and wandered across the track, I couldn't get out of his way."
Frank Biela and Marco Werner were a bit more cautios in traffic and got the merits. "These were important points, now we can go into the next races with a little bit less pressure," said Biela. "I am really happy, because this race was not easy at all," added Marco Werner. "At Road Atlanta I lost a lot of time in traffic, this time I was much better and brought the victory home."
Audi driver Ekblom still on title course
The title fight in the Swedish Touring Car Championship (STCC) is hotting up. At Karlskoga (Sweden), Audi driver Fredrik Ekblom finished the first of the two races in third place. In the second heat, Ekblom went off the track after a first-lap clash with Jan Nilsson, currently second in the Championship. Dropping to 12th place, Ekblom was able to fight his way back up to ninth position. Nilsson was later given a 20-second penalty for causing the collision promoting Ekblom to 9th place and further extending his lead in the overall classification. Before the final two race weekends, Ekblom is 47 points ahead of Nilsson. However, in the series' finale at Mantorp Park on September 14, double points will be awarded.
Tom Kristensen back in the Audi R8
On August 31, Tom Kristensen will race an Audi R8 for the first time since the final round of the 2002 American Le Mans Series (ALMS) last October. Together with Japanese Seiji Ara, Kristensen will participate in the 1000 km race at Spa-Francorchamps (Belgium) for Team Goh, suported at this event by the Belgian Audi importer and starting as "Audi Team Goh For Belgium". In preparation for the first ever participation of an Audi R8 in the FIA Sportscar Championship, Ara and Kristensen will test at Spa-Francorchamps next Tuesday (August 19).
Coming up this week
Seiji Ara and Tom Kristensen are testing Team Goh's Audi R8 at Spa-Francorchamps (Tuesday) ...
On Tuesday, Frank Biela and Marco Werner are guests of the "Audi Stars and Cars Party" at the Schaumburg Audi dealer in Chicago. JJ Lehto and Johnny Herbert will appear at Continental Audi in Naperville on Wednesday ...
Round six of the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) at Road America (Sunday) ...