DTM

Ekstrom, Audi impress in Zandvoort qualifying

It was Audi-Audi-Audi in the first-ever qualifying session for the new Audi A4, with Mattias Ekstrom leading a 1-2-3 sweep of the top qualifying positions at Zandvoort for tomorrow's DTM (Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters) race. "I enjoyed every...

It was Audi-Audi-Audi in the first-ever qualifying session for the new Audi A4, with Mattias Ekstrom leading a 1-2-3 sweep of the top qualifying positions at Zandvoort for tomorrow's DTM (Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters) race.

"I enjoyed every metre in my new Audi A4 DTM today," said the happy Ekstrom after the session. "The car and my driving style are in perfect harmony, so it's really fun."

It had looked as if championship leader Timo Scheider would take the pole, as he headed the field for the most of the session. However, Ekstrom put together a stellar lap in the dying seconds of the session, not only taking the pole position but also taking it in style.

Ekstrom's fast lap, timed at 1:31.012, was clearly the class of the qualifying session. The Swede outpaced Scheider by 0.219 seconds, and everyone else was more than half a second off the pace.

"Everything was spot on," Ekstrom smiled. "I knew that on the final lap, it was all or nothing. Right when I crossed the finish line, I told my team on the radio: 'If that wasn't enough for pole, I don't know what to do, because the lap was really perfect.' Now, it will be essential to use this position in the race."

Scheider, who leads the championship by a single point over Paul di Resta, had to settle for the second position. Fortunately for Scheider, his rival, who also carries an additional weight penalty this weekend due to his victory a fortnight ago, is starting well back in seventh.

"I've been on pole at Zandvoort twice in the past, but have never won there, so maybe position two is a good omen," Scheider mused. "Now I'm hoping for dry weather tomorrow - particularly for the fans. And of course I'm wishing for three Audi drivers to be standing on the podium after the race on Sunday!"

Tom Kristensen took third grid position for Audi, not quite able to match Ekstrom's and Scheider's speed, but still fast enough to edge out Jamie Green's Mercedes-Benz. Kristensen was 0.551 slower than Ekstrom, just quick enough to beat Green by 0.037 seconds.

Bruno Spengler (Mercedes-Benz) shares the third row with the last of the 2008-spec Audis, that of Martin Tomczyk. Spengler thought that he might have been further up the grid, had he not made a small mistake in braking on his fast lap. Still, second-best Mercedes on a track that favours Audis was a good result.

Still, it was Audi's day today. The sand dunes of Zandvoort have always been good to the Ingolstadt team, and the new car is working very well for three of the four drivers that have them.

"Of course, having three drivers up in front is great," said Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, the head of Audi Motorsport. "Since 2004, we have been regular pole-sitters here. Mattias did a perfect lap with three fastest sector times. However, the opposition is very strong, and therefore, we have to achieve in the race what we have shown today."

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Series DTM
Drivers Tom Kristensen , Martin Tomczyk , Timo Scheider , Mattias Ekström , Bruno Spengler , Paul di Resta , Jamie Green