Nuremberg city street race marks pinnacle of the DTM season
Audi Sport’s “home race” has seen three Audi successes so far
For the fans, the Norisring race is the absolute highlight on the DTM’s race calendar. For Audi, it is a home round. But in Nuremberg of all places the brand with the four rings has had to wait for a triumph for ten years - in 2002, it was successful with the compact TT.
In 1990 and 1991, the V8 quattro was victorious at the Norisring and in 2002 it was the ABT-Audi TT-R. Yet with the A4 DTM, the situation seems to have been jinxed. From 2004 to 2011, it won five out of eight possible champion’s titles and 34 DTM races. Not at the Norisring, though. Pole positions, leading laps, fastest laps, second places, third places - only victory was denied to the A4 DTM on the short, 2.3-kilometer city street circuit between the Dutzendteich lake and the easyCredit Stadium. In 2010, merely 0.591 seconds were lacking.
Now the A4 DTM is in a museum and its successor, the A5 DTM, just won its first DTM race at Spielberg at the beginning of June. Since then, "project home victory" has been running at full stretch at Audi Sport in Ingolstadt and Neckarsulm. The squad headed by Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich has been intensively using the brief break between Spielberg and the Norisring to continue to optimize the A5 DTM. Computer analyses, tests at the Lausitzring, a special Norisring simulation: Audi Sport and the three Audi Sport teams, Abt Sportsline, Phoenix and Rosberg, have been meticulously preparing for the season’s pinnacle.
Yet it remains a journey into the unknown, as the Norisring is the only city street circuit on the DTM’s race calendar. The track changes from year to year, with a new bump in the surface here or a new piece of tarmac there. Opportunities for prior testing are not available so that the effects always manifest themselves only in the first free practice session at any of the events. Plus, the Norisring races are typically decided by thousandths of a second, which means that the driver’s form on race day is another crucial factor.
Mattias Ekström is traveling as the runner-up in the standings to Nuremberg where he has always been among the protagonists. Timo Scheider only missed the long-awaited victory in 2010 by a very narrow margin. Spielberg winner Edoardo Mortara won at the Norisring in Formula 3 and Mike Rockenfeller in the Porsche Carrera Cup. All other Audi racers rave about the track as well which, according to Rahel Frey, "looks super easy but is super difficult."
Clearly, the battle of the premium manufacturers, Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, that already thrilled the fans at the first four races of the year, will see a new highlight at the Norisring - in front of more than 100,000 fans.
Those who miss the chance of buying any of the coveted Norisring tickets will be treated to a seat in the front row on ARD, as "Das Erste" will be broadcasting the qualifying session (Saturday, starting at 15:00 - local time) and the race (Sunday, starting at 13:15 - local time) live as usual. Tuning into the DTM race at "Germany’s Monaco" will no doubt be worth everyone’s - not only Audi fans’ - while.
Quotes by the officials
Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport): "After my personal home race at Spielberg, the home round for AUDI AG and particularly for the Ingolstadt plant is now coming up. We’re all hoping to be successful at the Norisring this year. At Spielberg, we developed the cars by another step. At the Norisring, we want to show a good team performance as well. Victory is our big aim."
Hans-Jürgen Abt (Team Director Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline): "We’re particularly looking forward to the Norisring, as this is the home race not only for Audi but also for our company. It would be nice to finally clinch another victory there. We last managed to do so in 2002 with our Abt-Audi TT-R."
Ernst Moser (Team Director Audi Sport Team Phoenix): "Like every year, we’re looking forward to the ‘German Monaco.’ We’ve still got some unfinished business there too. It’s time for Audi to finally mount the very top of the podium there again. It’s Audi’s home track and we’ll be seeing a very large turnout of Audi fans - our job is to not disappoint them."
Arno Zensen (Team Director Audi Sport Team Rosberg): "After the victory at Spielberg, we’re extremely motivated. Last year, we were running well in the rain. The Norisring is always special - a fantastic city circuit that we’re tremendously looking forward to."
Source: Audi Motorsport