Audi takes both top spots on grid at Russian premiere

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Two Audi RS 5 DTM cars on front row at Moscow Raceway.

Ingolstadt/Moscow - Audi is entering the first Russian race in DTM history with two cars on the front row. At the debut event at Moscow Raceway, Mike Rockenfeller and Mattias Ekström in their two Audi RS 5 DTM cars are starting from the front row (Sunday, from 13:15, CEST live on “Das Erste”).

Mattias Ekström, Dieter Gass, head of Audi DTM, and polesitter Mike Rockenfeller
Mattias Ekström, Dieter Gass, head of Audi DTM, and polesitter Mike Rockenfeller

Photo by: ITR eV

On the new DTM race track located around 80 kilometers north-west of Moscow, the Audi RS 5 DTM left a strong impression right from the beginning. In the morning’s free practice, seven Audi drivers were in the top eight; in the afternoon, leader of the standings Mike Rockenfeller in the Schaeffler Audi RS 5 DTM of Audi Sport Team Phoenix and Mattias Ekström in the Red Bull Audi RS 5 DTM of Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline clinched the two top grid positions for Audi.

As a matter of exception, the third section of qualifying on the 2.555-kilometer track of Moscow Raceway was the decisive one. The single timed laps of the top four had to be cancelled on short notice for safety reasons because the rescue helicopter was grounded. By setting the absolutely fastest time of the day (58.423 seconds), Mike Rockenfeller secured the top spot on the grid for the second time this season. For Audi, it was the 70th pole position in total in the DTM.

“Obviously, I’m very pleased to be in first place and starting from the pole position at the DTM’s premiere in Russia,” said Mike Rockenfeller. “My Audi RS 5 DTM was perfect today; Team Phoenix did a fantastic job. My pace was so good today that I’d have been confident to take first place in Q4 as well.

We knew that qualifying here is very important but we already worked for the race as well. That’s why I’m hoping that our car will be running well in the race tomorrow too. Let’s see what the weather will do and what other surprises there’ll be in Russia…”

Mike Rockenfeller, Audi Sport Team Phoenix Racing Audi A5 DTM
Mike Rockenfeller, Audi Sport Team Phoenix Racing Audi A5 DTM

Photo by: Audi Communications Motorsport

On taking grid position two, Mattias Ekström achieved his best qualifying result of the season so far. The Swede made the leap into the top four for the first time this year. His team-mate Jamie Green in fifth place just barely missed the top four in his Red Bull Audi RS 5 DTM.

Miguel Molina (Audi RS 5 DTM), Adrien Tambay (Audi ultra RS 5 DTM), Filipe Albuquerque (Audi Financial Services RS 5 DTM/Audi Sport Team Rosberg) and Timo Scheider (AUTO TEST Audi RS 5 DTM) are starting the race from grid positions eleven, twelve, 13 and 14. Edoardo Mortara (Playboy Audi RS 5 DTM) is starting from 16th place after several of the times he had set in Q2 were cancelled for his car having left the track.

“It’s great that at the Russian premiere of the DTM two Audi RS 5 DTM cars are on the front row,” commented Dieter Gass, Head of DTM at Audi Sport. “Our cars were running really well here right from the beginning. Naturally, the end of qualifying was a bit odd, but I think ‘Rocky’ and Mattias (Ekström) would have had very good chances of taking the front row in Q4 as well.

Both were fast in all sessions and always running at the very front. With three cars in the top five and seven in the top 14 we’ve got a good overall starting base for tomorrow’s race. And with a view toward the Championship it’s obviously particularly pleasing to see Mike Rockenfeller start from the pole position and thus having the opportunity to extend his lead of the standings.”

The DTM premiere at Moscow Raceway starts at 15:30 local time (13:30 in Germany). Fans around the world can watch the race live on the DTM’s new YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/dtmint. 39 TV channels in total air live DTM coverage in 141 countries. In Germany, ARD will start to broadcast live from Moscow on “Das Erste” at 13:15.

Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport): “The safety of the drivers clearly comes first. That’s why it was only logical to end the qualifying session after Q3 once the rescue helicopter had been grounded. We’ve got two cars on the front row and ‘Rocky’ on the pole position – that’s a very nice result for Audi. If you look at how qualifying developed it’s probably no coincidence that Mike (Rockenfeller) and Mattias (Ekström) are on the front row.”

Dieter Gass (Head of DTM): “Obviously, we’re very happy about the front row of the grid at the DTM’s Russian premiere – even though it feels a bit like ‘unfinished business’ because we couldn’t drive Q4. But even there we’d have had a good chance because we were in contention at the front in all the sessions.”

Mike Rockenfeller (Schaeffler Audi RS 5 DTM, grid position 1): “I’m very happy about the pole position. At the end, it was strange that we didn’t drive Q4. But up to that point it had been a normal qualifying session and everybody had to deliver their performance. The car was great. My thanks go to my team: After free practice, I wasn’t satisfied but we made the right decisions. I believe we deserve being on pole, even though I’d have liked to have driven Q4.”

Mattias Ekström (Red Bull Audi RS 5 DTM, grid position 2): “It’s always nice being far at the front in qualifying. Perhaps even more would have been possible today in Q4. Particularly today: My Audi was very good, it was huge fun to drive. Every time I was out on track I was beaming at the wheel and enjoyed it. Second place on the grid is really good. I’m looking forward to the race and hope that I can really score tomorrow.”

Jamie Green (Red Bull Audi RS 5 DTM, grid position 5): “The Audi RS 5 DTM seems to fit well with Moscow Raceway. I’m pretty pleased even though, as one could see, a bit more would have been possible. But the qualifying session was close, as expected. Position five on the grid on the whole is a good starting base and that’s why I’m optimistically looking toward the race tomorrow.”

Miguel Molina (Audi RS 5 DTM, grid position 11): “It wasn’t a bad qualifying session. We improved on track each time. When I returned to the pits after Q2, I was still in Q3, then I was eliminated because Pascal Wehrlein was credited with one lap. We’re starting from eleventh place. That’s a decent starting base for driving a good race tomorrow.”

Adrien Tambay (Audi ultra RS 5 DTM, grid position 12): “It could have gone better. My best lap that I would have made it into Q3 with was cancelled. I crossed the white line with all four wheels – that’s prohibited by the regulations. Twelfth place isn’t bad but it’s not what we were shooting for either, because in Q1 we were in fourth place. Now I’m determined to push in the race.”

Filipe Albuquerque (Audi Financial Services RS 5 DTM, grid position 13): “The car wasn’t quite as good as it had been in free practice but more than this result would still have been possible in qualifying. Unfortunately, I made a mistake in the last turn of my fastest lap; otherwise it would arguably have been enough for Q3.”

Timo Scheider (AUTO TEST Audi RS 5 DTM, grid position 14): “In the end, I was lacking five hundredths of a second for Q3. But we knew that it would be very close here. I wasn’t completely happy with the rear axle today. But with the gaps being as close as they were it’s hard to judge why we lost time.”

Edoardo Mortara (Playboy Audi RS 5 DTM, grid position 16): “It was a weak qualifying session for us. Before qualifying started I was very confident. But then it just didn’t work out. I tried to drive a fast lap but it wasn’t possible. We simply weren’t fast enough.”

Hans-Jürgen Abt (Team Director Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline): “That the qualifying session had to end early because the rescue helicopter was grounded due to the air space being blocked is definitely unusual. But naturally Audi can be highly pleased with the front row of the grid. From the team’s perspective, not only ‘Eki’ (Mattias Ekström) in second place is well-positioned but so is Jamie Green in fifth place. The squad is poised and we’ll try and bring this home tomorrow.”

Ernst Moser (Team Director Audi Sport Team Phoenix): “A crazy qualifying session with a happy ending for us. But ‘Rocky’ (Mike Rockenfeller) did have the speed to decide Q4 in his favor as well. That’s why I think that he deserves being on pole. That ‘Eki’ (Mattias Ekström) is side by side with him will no doubt help us: That’s a superb starting base. For Miguel (Molina), it was unfortunate that he was retroactively reclassified to eleventh place and not allowed to start in Q3 anymore. I’m sure that even more would have been possible there because he’d consistently been improving.”

Arno Zensen (Team Director Audi Sport Team Rosberg): “Congratulations to Mike Rockenfeller and Mattias Ekström. Of course, the front row is sensational. Things were going well this morning and we were optimistic. We’ve got to analyze why we couldn’t continue that way in qualifying.”

Audi

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About this article
Series DTM
Article type Qualifying report
Tags albuquerque, audi, dtm, ekstrom, molina, moscow, rockenfeller, tambay

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