Pierre Kaffer quickest Audi driver at Barcelona
Changing weather on first DTM day in Spain
Six Audi drivers in top ten
Rally star Carlos Sainz in the Audi A4 DTM for the first time
In the DTM's first round in Spain Pierre Kaffer (Audi Sport Team Phoenix) was the quickest Audi driver on Friday. On the 2.949-kilometre version of the Grand Prix circuit in Barcelona Kaffer in his Castrol Audi A4 DTM drove the fourth-quickest lap. The Geman was merely 0.204 seconds short of the day's best time set by the current leader of the standings, Bernd Schneider.
At the end of the second 90-minute test in the afternoon six Audi drivers were in the top ten, delivering a consistently strong performance by the Audi squad. Heinz-Harald Frentzen, Tom Kristensen, Mattias Ekström and Martin Tomczyk (all from Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline) finished in positions five to eight within 57 thousandths of a second of each other.
Achieving a surprise result in the first test in the morning, Nicolas Kiesa and Vanina Ickx in the 2004-spec A4 DTM cars entered by the customer team Futurecom TME, finished in the first two positions. They drove the fastest laps in the first few minutes of the practice session when the track was still dry. Shortly thereafter, rain set in. The track did not dry off until the second test in the afternoon.
For Saturday's qualifying, the weather forecast has again predicted changing conditions. The fight for the top grid positions, which becomes even more critical as a result of the weather changes, will be broadcast live on "Das Erste" starting at 2:00 p.m. (local time). That thousandths of a second will make a crucial difference was obvious on Friday already: the quickest 17 cars came within one second of each other.
A prominent guest in Audi's team garage at Barcelona is Volkswagen factory driver Carlos Sainz. The two-time World Rally Champion completed his first trial laps at the wheel of the Audi A4 racing taxi and will be chauffeuring VIP guests around the Circuit de Catalunya on Saturday evening.
Quotes after Friday's tests
Dr Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport): "Because of the constantly changing weather the morning was hardly usable. In the afternoon we drove four long-runs which were very good. One of them was even excellent. Should conditions be dry on Sunday, we'll have a good base for the race."
Pierre Kaffer: "In the morning session in the rain we had difficulties. In dry conditions things were going pretty well. We saved our tyres and used only one new set. I think we've got a good set-up. I'm looking forward to Saturday because I've got good memories of Barcelona from my days in the Supercup. The circuit is simply great."
Heinz-Harald Frentzen: "It's a good thing that here at Barcelona we were confronted with all sorts of conditions on the first day straight away. Although we're only racing the small version of the circuit, it brings back lots of memories of the past. Today, we had a good day without any technical problems whatsoever, and gathered lots of information which is extremely important for the weekend."
Tom Kristensen: "It's great being here at Barcelona on this famous circuit with the DTM. Even the short variant has preserved the circuit's typical characteristics. With the set-up, it's important to find a compromise for the fast turns and slow corners. My test day was okay. Mercedes drove good lap times. But we know what our goal is as well as knowing what we need to do to achieve it."
Mattias Ekström: "For me, the morning and afternoon sessions were pretty similar and positive. At first, my Audi A4 DTM didn't feel all that good in wet conditions, but then we made great strides. In the dry it was the same because we found a good balance then quickly. I'm confident."
Martin Tomczyk: "Driving the first day in such changing conditions when the track is new to you of course isn't exactly perfect and didn't do a lot for us in terms of the set-up. Instead, the afternoon was all the better: we tried out new details, which we had used previously in test drives, and which obviously are working well. This paid off particularly in the long-run, with which I'm absolutely satisfied."
Christian Abt: "Although I lost a lot of time because a drive shaft had to be changed, I'm actually quite satisfied. We made a lot of progress. If I hadn't made a mistake in the final sector and lost three tenths of a second I'd be where my team-mate is - very far at the front. We're well sorted for the qualifying, and I did a long-run already as well."
Frank Stippler: "Twice in mid-field - that's quite okay. In the rain we tried out a few things, as well as in the afternoon. The lap wasn't the optimum yet. I believe there's some more potential. Pierre Kaffer's time is within a possible range."
Timo Scheider: "The beginning in the rain was difficult, I was not satisfied. In the dry we found a direction but I'm still not satisfied with the lap time we drove at the end. Partially, that's because of me, and partially due to the set-up. We need to pick up quite a bit more speed."
Nicolas Kiesa: "Our race weekend was off to a difficult start in the morning, because it was raining. My lap time was fast enough to set the fastest time in the first test, then the rain got heavier. My sector times, compared with the other cars that were out at the same time, were very good. We worked on the set-up. The car is now much better in the rain than at Zandvoort. In the second test we optimised the fine-tuning. I have to improve my line in the first corner, though."
Vanina Ickx: "I had an interesting day that started in the dry - that explains why we were leading the time sheets. In the afternoon we did a generally good job. Not optimal was the fact that there were minor braking problems and that I made a mistake on the new set of tyres. Nevertheless, it was a good start to the race weekend."
Hans-Jürgen Abt (Team Director Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline): "Today our drivers got a quick Barcelona training course: wet, changing and dry conditions immediately chasing each other. Still, we kept our cool and reeled off our programme. Now we should be well set for any contingencies."
Ernst Moser (Teamchef Audi Sport Team Phoenix): "The results in the rain were pretty sobering with both cars. We changed the set-up but couldn't try this in the second test because the rain had stopped. In the dry, we continued working with the good base we worked out at Zandvoort. This enabled Pierre to achieve a very good result. In the dry, we can be satisfied already, but that's not true for the rain yet."
Arno Zensen (Team Director Audi Sport Team Rosberg): "We've still got a lot of work to do. I'm happy that Frank Stippler is doing well and that both drivers are close together. But we need to be a lot quicker yet with both cars. That's what we're going to concentrate on now."
Audi Sport Team Phoenix, Castrol Audi A4 DTM #14
17th place / 4th place, 1m 03.459s
Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline, Veltins Audi A4 DTM #6
7th place / 5th place, 1m 03.540s
Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline, Siemens Audi A4 DTM #7
9th place / 6th place, 1m 03.576s
Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline, Red Bull Audi A4 DTM #5
13th place / 7th place, 1m 03.582s
Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline, Red Bull Audi A4 DTM #4
19th place / 8th place, 1m 03.597s
Audi Sport Team Phoenix, Playboy Audi A4 DTM #12
20th place / 10th place, 1m 03.745s
Audi Sport Team Rosberg, S line Audi A4 DTM #15
11th place / 11th place, 1m 03.753s
Audi Sport Team Rosberg, Gebrauchtwagen plus Audi A4 DTM #16
15th place / 12th place, 1m 03.802s
Futurecom TME, Futurecom Audi A4 DTM #19
1st place / 15th place, 1m 03.935s
Futurecom TME, Original Zubehör Audi A4 DTM #20
2nd place / 20th place, 1m 04.996s