Ingolstadt/Nürburg - Thanks to a clever strategy of Audi Sport Team Phoenix and keeping a cool head Audi driver Mike Rockenfeller was able to extend his lead in the overall standings to 35 points at the Nürburgring.
Audi Sport Team Phoenix based in Meuspath in immediate proximity to the Nürburgring opted for a risky strategy that in the end fully paid off. The team called Rockenfeller to the pits for switching to rain tires while the safety car was still deployed. On optimal tires, Rocky managed to battle his way forward from 20th place to the front of the field within just five laps and to commandingly achieve an advantage of nearly half a minute.
Despite having to make an additional pit stop on account of the strategy, it was ultimately enough for him to take fourth place and another twelve points on a drying track. These points are particularly valuable as his so far fiercest immediate rivals, Bruno Spengler (BMW) and Gary Paffett (Mercedes-Benz, did not finish in the points.
Today, Ive got to express a special thank you to my guys: This fourth place can be fully credited to Team Phoenix, said the leader of the standings after the spectacular race. Joey (Hand) almost ruined it for us in turn one but the team kept cool and did everything right. I want to thank the team for that!
The other Audi drivers were entangled in numerous rough duels and thrilled the spectators at the Nürburgring with spectacular overtaking maneuvers. Adrien Tambay in the Audi ultra RS 5 DTM of Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline in sixth place scored points for the second consecutive time.
Rockenfellers team-mate Miguel Molina (Audi RS 5 DTM) in eighth place claimed the first points of the year despite the fact that the Spaniard, due to a slip at the races mid-point, suddenly lost seven positions. Jamie Green (Red Bull Audi RS 5 DTM), following a botched start, battled his way forward to ninth place.
The two drivers of Audi Sport Team Rosberg just barely missed scoring points. Filipe Albuquerque (Audi Financial Services RS 5 DTM/eleventh place) lost valuable time in the pits. Edoardo Mortara (Playboy Audi RS 5 DTM/twelfth place) spun in the starting commotion after contact with the BMW of Bruno Spengler and was subsequently hit by Robert Wickens (Mercedes-Benz), who ultimately finished the race as the winner.
Mattias Ekström (Red Bull Audi RS 5 DTM/13th place) lost ground due to several tussles and incidents of body contact. And the string of misfortune suffered by Timo Scheider just doesnt seem to want to end. The two-time DTM Champion had to park his AUTO TEST Audi RS 5 DTM after only eight laps after the rear of the car had been brushed on the straight and he spun off track.
I think the spectators really got their moneys worth today, commented Dieter Gass, Head of DTM at Audi Sport. Mike (Rockenfeller), thanks to a clever move by his team, made another major step forward in the Championship today and now has a 35-point lead. The strategy of banking on three pit stops and changing to rain tires during the safety car period fully worked out and was rewarded in the end. With four Audi RS 5 DTM cars in the points we can be pleased on the whole even though we could probably have achieved even more.
After a four-week break, the DTM will continue at Oschersleben on September 15. Prior to that, the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) at São Paulo (Brazil) is on Audis agenda, which Audi, with the R18 e-tron quattro hybrid race car, is leading as well.
Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport): That was a race in difficult conditions and perfect advertising for the DTM. There were battles and tussles everywhere in the field, including among brand colleagues. For my taste, there may have been too many duels among our guys today but the spectators probably enjoyed it. After the shock in turn one, Mike (Rockenfeller) and his team did everything right these were very important points today in the battle for the title.
Dieter Gass (Head of DTM): This was a varied and interesting race. When you look at the start and then see your Championship leader off track in the first turn thats the worst beginning you can imagine. We were all the way at the rear of the field but made the right decision to call Mike (Rockenfeller) into the pits behind the safety car and to give him rain tires although that couldnt be counted as a mandatory pit stop yet. But it was clear that for the existing conditions it was the right tire. If you want to move forward from the rear its the only chance youve got. From that point on, the race went very well. We could have even hoped for more after Mike had a relatively significant advantage before the first pit stops. But considering the way this race went and the difficult conditions weve really got to be pleased with this result.
Mike Rockenfeller (Schaeffler Audi RS 5 DTM / 4th place): Obviously, Im very pleased with the points that goes without saying when youre almost the last car in the field after the first turn. In these conditions, anything can happen and it went optimally. Of course Id prefer standing on the podium and to be smelling of champagne. But thats not always possible in the DTM; the field is too close for that and the level much too high. That means youve got to take what you can get. And this fourth place today is really worth a lot.
Adrien Tambay (Audi ultra RS 5 DTM / 6th place): I couldnt be much happier because the weekend hadnt started really well. I started the race from position 14 on the grid and ultimately took sixth place. Like at Moscow, I scored points. Now I am where I wanted to be. And Im hoping to be even further in front in the next races.
Miguel Molina (Audi RS 5 DTM / 8th place): It was a difficult race due to the changeable weather. I made a mistake. But I scored my first points today in the current season. Now Im optimistic for the next race. Were traveling to Oschersleben where I was on the pole position for the first time in the DTM.
Jamie Green (Red Bull Audi RS 5 DTM / 9th place): Chaotic is the word Id like to circumscribe the race with. Although I made it into the points, I had too many adventures to master for my taste. I didnt manage to move off properly at the start. Then, driving in the rain on slicks certainly wasnt fun. I also had a couple of rough duels with brand colleagues. I didnt like that either. But Im pretty happy about ninth place.
Filipe Albuquerque (Audi Financial Services RS 5 DTM / 11th place): A hard race, really difficult but crazy and funny too. Unfortunately, I barely missed my goal of finishing in the points. And that wasnt due to the speed but our second pit stop wasnt very good it probably cost the Championship point.
Edoardo Mortara (Playboy Audi RS 5 DTM / 12th place): Bruno Spengler bumped me after the start and the other Canadian subsequently turned me around. That meant my race was over. Another weekend to forget.
Mattias Ekström (Red Bull Audi RS 5 DTM / 13th place): With the rain in the beginning, it wasnt easy for us drivers. Instead, the entertainment value for the crowd was all the greater. Unfortunately, I wasnt able to finish the race with points. Subjectively, more should have been possible but like anywhere else theres no such thing as ifs, buts and whens in the DTM.
Timo Scheider (AUTO TEST Audi RS 5 DTM / retirement): A turbulent race with conditions Id actually been wishing for in order to move forward from the rear. I had a good start and got through turn one well. But in the second corner, I was turned around by Andy Priaulx and dropped to the end of the field. Due to the safety car I was able to quickly catch up again. With a good pace I recovered as the race went on but then I was hit by Filipe (Albuquerque), who turned me around. While I was spinning, Jamie (Green) hit me as well and the suspension collapsed in the process. That was the end of my race. Its painful because the problems keep lining up and we dont manage to catch a lucky streak.
Hans-Jürgen Abt (Team Director Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline): That was a very turbulent race with lots of rough edges. Congratulations to Mike (Rockenfeller). He extended his lead of the standings. That was the most important thing for Audi this weekend. Our team tried to support him in this as best we could.
Ernst Moser (Team Director Audi Sport Team Phoenix): I think Ive never lost as much energy during a race as I did today. Big praise goes to the strategy squad. The decision to immediately call Mike (Rockenfeller) to the pits and to give him rain tires was the key to success. Mike showed a very strong performance in the rain. On the option tires he was a bit too cautious for my taste but were battling for the title and thats why its okay to practice some restraint now and then. A 35-point advantage in the standings. Wonderful. Miguel (Molina) was running in third place for a long time. After his mistake he battled his way back into the points. His form curve is pointing upward.
Arno Zensen (Team Director Audi Sport Team Rosberg): First of all, Id like to congratulate Mike Rockenfeller and Audi Sport Team Phoenix. A perfect race and an extension of the lead in the Championship. For us, the race didnt go smoothly. Edoardo (Mortara) was involved in a few smaller battles right on the first lap and dropped back. That wasnt his fault. Filipe (Albuquerque) drove a great race and could easily have made it into the points. Unfortunately, one of the pit stops didnt work out. I can only apologize for that.