Audi on second row at “home round”
• Mattias Ekström on grid position four at the Norisring
• Fastest lap of the weekend for the Audi A4 DTM
• Six Audi racers on the top eleven grid positions
Ingolstadt/Nuremberg, July 2, 2011 - At Audi’s "home round" in the DTM at the Norisring, Mattias Ekström set the quickest qualifying lap (48.058 seconds). Nevertheless, the Swede from Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline had to settle for fourth place in the final shoot-out.
By setting best times in the second and third section of qualifying Ekström suggested the potential of the Audi A4 DTM on the city street circuit along the Dutzendteich lake. In Q3 the two-time DTM champion managed to move to the front of the field by achieving the fastest lap of the weekend thus far despite drizzling rain setting in. But in Q4 Ekström made a little mistake in the first hairpin. "The left front wheel stopped," explained the Swede. "This caused me to lose the crucial time. It’s very difficult to get everything exactly right at the Norisring. In Q2 and Q3 it worked out well but in the crucial moment unfortunately not. But from position four, everything is still possible."
Ekström was the only Audi driver in Q4. Timo Scheider (grid position seven) and Edoardo Mortara from Audi Sport Team Rosberg (grid position eight) were eliminated in Q3. With Miguel Molina, Martin Tomczyk (Audi Sport Team Phoenix) and Oliver Jarvis on positions nine, ten and eleven, six of the nine Audi A4 DTM cars are on the best eleven grid positions. Filipe Albuquerque, Mike Rockenfeller and Rahel Frey on the other hand were eliminated as early as in Q1 and will start into the race from the last three grid positions despite minimal time gaps.
"As expected, qualifying here was not about hundredths but thousandths of a second," said Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. "In Q2 the quickest eight were within just 0.114 seconds of each other - that says everything about how extremely close the performance in the field is. Mattias (Ekström) made it into Q4 and had the chance to clinch the pole position for Audi. This shows that the A4 DTM is competitive at the Norisring - even though our rivals have traditionally been particularly strong here. We’ll try and put them under pressure tomorrow and fight for victory despite our starting base not being all that good."
The fifth race of the 2011 DTM season will start on Sunday at 1.00 p.m. (CEST) and cover a distance of 82 laps. ARD will start to broadcast live on the "Das Erste" at 12:45 (local time). The planned demo laps of the Audi R18 TDI that was victorious at Le Mans before the race had to be cancelled at short notice for logistical reasons. A show car of the LMP1 sport prototype is displayed in front of the Audi VIP Lounge at the Norisring.
Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport)
"Qualifying didn’t go according to our expectations. At the Norisring we’re traditionally having a difficult time - and that was again the case in today’s qualifying although the times were very close together. Small things made the difference and we didn’t manage to get everything perfectly right. ‘Eki’ at least made it into the top four. But the race isn’t until tomorrow. We’ll be giving everything."
Mattias Ekström (Red Bull Audi A4 DTM), grid position 4
"Fourth place is okay but far from good. Q4 was disappointing. I braked too hard in front of the first turn and didn’t have enough grip. The tires and the brakes were simply still too cold. With a good start I could manage to overtake all three Mercedes cars in front of me in the race."
Timo Scheider (AUTO TEST Audi A4 DTM), grid position 7
"Subjectively, things were going better than they were this morning. In the last outing we went out just a tiny bit too late. This first lap was relatively okay. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to improve any more afterwards when the first rain drops fell. Mattias (Ekström) on the other hand managed to do it and, for Norisring conditions, made a huge leap forward. I’ve got to analyze how that happened. Nothing’s lost with seventh place. At the Lausitzring we managed to move to the front after having started even farther from the rear. Why we shouldn’t be able to do that here as well?"
At the Lausitzring we managed to move to the front after having started even farther from the rear
Edoardo Mortara (Playboy Audi A4 DTM), grid position 8
"Eighth place is a good qualifying result although a better place would have been possible because I made a few mistakes. But it was good to have made it into Q3. Being the best year-old Audi car today was a good job for us and Audi Sport Team Rosberg. Let’s see what conditions we’ll have in the race."
Miguel Molina (Red Bull Audi A4 DTM), grid position 9
"It went better than last year. I’m pleased with that. Still, I’ve got to improve some more on this track. Qualifying was okay. The car was good. I had only minor mistakes on my lap. We know that this year the battle in qualifying is extremely close. I’m happy with ninth place nevertheless. And I believe in a good race on Sunday."
Martin Tomczyk (Schaeffler Audi A4 DTM), grid position 10
"Things didn’t go the way we’d been planning. The tires didn’t work the way they had been so far this weekend. I wasn’t able to make use of grip from the first lap on, that’s why our strategy didn’t fit - but there was no way we could have known that before. I heard that others had that problem too. But the points are not awarded until tomorrrow. Grid position ten isn’t the best but neither the worst place. Let’s see where we’ll finish."
Oliver Jarvis (Audi Sport performance cars A4 DTM), grid position 11 "We had a great car on Friday and also on Saturday morning and were always among the top five. The rain between the second free practice and qualifying had a major impact. We had little grip and therefore couldn’t drive any faster."
Filipe Albuquerque (TV Movie Audi A4 DTM), grid position 16
"I’m not happy at all. The second set of tires was much better and my time kept getting better. I went all the way to the limit and my wheels locked in the last turn. Later I wasn’t able to improve any more. That’s a shame! All the times are so close and this is pretty demanding. The most difficult thing is the braking points. And to let yourself be carried out all the way up to the wall on the parallel straight is interesting and a lot of fun."
Mike Rockenfeller (E-POSTBRIEF Audi A4 DTM), grid position 17
"I’m happy to be back on the DTM grid. But I’ve got to honestly say that things couldn’t have gone much worse today than they did. Being on the last row after having been among the top five at all the other events this year is very frustrating. I had no grip whatsoever and was much too slow. In the DTM I’ve never really done well on this track. I knew that it would be difficult but would have never thought that I’d be on the last row."
Rahel Frey (Glamour Audi A4 DTM), grid position 18
"We had some problems yesterday in free practice. First it was raining. Starting that way at the Norisring was not easy. Later we had some problems with the suspension. But we kept on working and were able to continuously improve. For qualifying I’d expected a bit more. Still, we want to attack tomorrow."
For qualifying I’d expected a bit more. Still, we want to attack tomorrow
Hans-Jürgen Abt (Team Director Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline):
"Although the situation was very close on the whole, we can’t be satisfied with qualifying. We’d expected more. Mattias (Ekström) made mistakes in his last qualifying section. He no longer had a chance to take pole. Too bad!"
Ernst Moser (Team Director Audi Sport Team Phoenix):
"As expected, it was very close. If you don’t get it right one hundred percent, then a tenth of a second is lacking. And in that case you won’t even make it into the top eight here. Unfortunately, that happened with Martin (Tomczyk. That’s too bad and frustrating but you can’t be at the front every time. Still, it’s possible to achieve a lot from position ten on the grid."
Arno Zensen (Team Director Audi Sport Team Rosberg):
"Filipe (Albuquerque) has a steep learning curve. This is his first race at the Norisring, and in the DTM at that. He didn’t do a bad job but obviously 16th place is disappointing for him. With Edo (Mortara) I’m quite happy. He was running well in all three qualifying sections. Third-best Audi, best year-old car - I can live well with that."