• Mattias Ekström at the Nürburgring again on grid position one
• Strong: Six Audi A4 DTM cars on the top eight grid positions
• First pole position of the year for Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline
Ingolstadt/Nürburg, August 6, 2011 - Jubilee for Audi: Mattias Ekström clinched the 60th pole position in the DTM for the brand with the four rings at the Nürburging. In changeable weather the Swede from Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline set the fastest time by far in Saturday’s qualifying. With six A4 DTM cars on the top eight grid positions Audi showed a strong overall team performance.
Mattias Ekström is back: A week after winning the 24-hour race at Spa-Francorchamps at the wheel of an Audi R8 LMS together with Timo Scheider and Greg Franchi the Swede secured the pole position for the sixth round of the DTM. Ekström last started into a race from the top grid position exactly one year ago, also at the Nürburgring.
"Today simply everything fit perfectly and my team always made exactly the right decisions," raved the two-time DTM champion. In view of the difficult conditions this was anything but an easy feat. Drizzling rain repeatedly set in. Particularly the first and last qualifying segments became a gamble.
As early as in Q3 Ekström was the front runner although he only drove one timed lap in order to save his tires for the final shoot-out for pole. On the partially moist track he subsequently put a more than three-second gap between himself and Mercedes driver Jamie Green.
Ekström’s team-mate Mike Rockenfeller secured position three on the grid. In Q4 the 2010 Le Mans winner made a mistake in turn one. In the end he was merely lacking 298 thousandths of a second to position two. "Naturally, it would have been even nicer to start from the front row together with ‘Eki’," said "Rocky." "But third place is also a good starting base for the race."
Another Audi driver, Edoardo Mortara (Audi Sport Team Rosberg), almost managed the leap into the top four as well. A small mistake at the beginning of his second timed lap in Q3 though cost the crucial time. By clinching position five the DTM rookie nonetheless achieved the second-best qualifying result in his still young career.
Miguel Molina, Martin Tomczyk (Audi Sport Team Phoenix) and Timo Scheider completed Audi’s strong qualifying result. Tomczyk, the runner-up in the standings, was the quickest driver in Q1 and second in Q2, but then failed to achieve his personal best time again in Q3. "It was very difficult today in the changing conditions," said Tomczyk. "But anything is still possible from position seven."
Filipe Albuquerque is starting from position twelve. Oliver Jarvis in Q1 went out too late again on the track as it was drying off after a rain shower and thus dropped to position 15. By taking position 16 Rahel Frey equalized her so far best qualifying result in the DTM in difficult conditions.
"It was very difficult for everyone today and Q4 was no doubt a bit of a gamble," commented Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. "But before then we already had six Audi cars in the top eight. That ‘Eki’ clinched pole in the end by delivering a perfect lap in these difficult conditions was a fantastic performance."
Quotes after qualifying at the Nürburgring
Six Audi A4 DTM cars on the top eight positions of the grid, Mattias Ekström on pole. Quotes after a qualifying session for the DTM race at the Nürburgring that went well for Audi.
Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport)
“Today everyone was having a difficult time of putting the decisions into action at the right moment. That it started to rain again in Q4 was of course an additional bit of a gamble. But with six Audi cars in the top eight we’d already had a very good team performance by that time. That ‘Eki’ with a perfect lap in difficult conditions then converted this into pole was primarily his achievement.”
Mattias Ekström (Red Bull Audi A4 DTM), grid position 1
“It’s nice to be back on pole again. But it’s also nice to finally experience a trouble-free weekend again. So far, we’ve had a good Friday and a very good Saturday. Now the key is to stay just as concentrated in order to continue the same way in warm-up and in the race.”
Mike Rockenfeller (E-POSTBRIEF Audi A4 DTM), grid position 3
“In qualifying we used just a few sets of tires and were always running well. Being third in the end is great. The front row would have been a bit nicer. That had been possible too but the conditions were very difficult for all of us in Q4. I tried everything. In the first turn I wanted too much in a wet place. Once the wheel stops it takes time until it starts to move again. There I lost the time that cost me the front row. But it’s more important that we were among the front runners the whole time. That makes me feel optimistic. I’d really like to thank my engineer and my team. They worked hard and did a good job.”
Edoardo Mortara (Playboy Audi A4 DTM), grid position 5
“It’s been one of my best qualifying sessions so far. But I’m not completely satisfied because I made some mistakes on my lap. The conditions were difficult because there was drizzling rain. With a good pace in the race and without any mistakes at the start we could be doing a good job.”
Miguel Molina (Red Bull Audi A4 DTM), grid position 6 “For me it was a good qualifying session, the best one in this season. We’ve got a good chance for the race. We were quick today and had a good rhythm.”
Martin Tomczyk (Schaeffler Audi A4 DTM), grid position 7
“Qualifying was very difficult yet again, as we’ve seen on several previous occasions this year in the DTM. It repeatedly started drizzling. It was difficult to hit the right time for a lap. In the end it didn’t completely work out. But generally I’m happy with our performance this weekend. As I’d already suggested before the weekend we do have a bit of a battle here with the older cars. That has proved to be true. Still, the starting base isn’t bad.”
Timo Scheider (AUTO TEST Audi A4 DTM), grid position 8
“It was very difficult. In the beginning I only managed not to be eliminated as early as in the first qualifying segment with a lot of luck. It could have easily turned out to be position 16. I still managed a really good last lap in Q1. When the track was drying off we were struggling with the same phenomena as we’d been since Friday morning. We aren’t able to adapt the rear suspension to my driving style. That’s a bit frustrating and really too bad as I like the Nürburgring a lot and have had good experiences here. Still, we’re optimistic for tomorrow. I’m hoping that in front of a home crowd of fans I’ll be able to move forward some more.”
Filipe Albuquerque (TV Movie Audi A4 DTM), grid position 12
“It was really a tough and tricky qualifying session as in Q1 I was running on slicks on a moist track and wanted to make it into Q2. It was hard but I managed to move forward. Q2 was dry and I was able to drive the best lap time of my weekend. Unfortunately, I had a lot of traffic on the first lap on the second set of tires. That wasn’t ideal. The second lap then was okay. I missed my goal – Q3 – by eight hundredths of a second.”
Oliver Jarvis (Audi Sport performance cars A4 DTM), grid position 15
“I was the first one to see the checkered flag, everyone else improved on the last lap. But I didn’t have a chance to do that. We were tenth and then I dropped to 15th place. That’s disappointing. We made a big step forward since yesterday. I’d have thought that a place among the top six would have been possible.”
Rahel Frey (Glamour Audi A4 DTM), grid position 16
“I’m a bit disappointed because I was in eleventh place for a long time. I was too cautious on my first fast lap. In the end, that cost me Q2. I wasn’t aggressive enough. Tomorrow I’ll be starting from position 16. At least there are still two cars behind me.”
Hans-Jürgen Abt (Team Director Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline):
“Well done to the whole team. It did a flawless job. That can’t be taken for granted in this stress situation. Today we showed that everything went superbly. Obviously we’re really pleased to see Mattias Ekström back on pole again – and with a huge lead at that. That was a great thing. I’m happy that we’re back. Mike Rockenfeller achieved a great result as well. We had the chance of being on the front row with both cars. But I’m also very pleased with him being on the second row. That’s a good prerequisite for the race.”
Ernst Moser (Team Director Audi Sport Team Phoenix):
“By taking position 16 Rahel (Frey) equalized her best result. That makes me very happy. Had she managed to cross the finish line once more just before the end then she’d have easily made it into Q2. But that’s the way it is in these kinds of weather conditions. Martin (Tomczyk) showed a commanding performance in the first two qualifying segments: once in first place and once in second place. In Q3 he apparently tried a new line in the first sector. But that didn’t go as well as he’d been thinking. We were out in no time. That’s a shame but we can still be pleased with the grid positions. Bruno Spengler is fourth, Martin seventh. That means a lot can still be achieved in the race.”
Arno Zensen (Team Director Audi Sport Team Rosberg):
“It was incredibly thrilling. At first we were still running on rain tires. That was the wrong decision. We just barely moved forward. In Q3 we managed eighth place with Edoardo (Mortara) by a narrow margin. He converted that into position five on the grid which makes him the best driver of a year-old car. Well done to Edo! It’s a shame that Filipe (Albuquerque) was lacking six hundredths to eighth place. That’s nothing to fret about, but naturally it’s really too bad. But on the whole I’m pleased.”