Audi can make DTM history
Ingolstadt/Hockenheim -- On October 25 the Hockenheimring will be the venue of the title decision in the DTM for the third time in a row. And for the third consecutive time, Audi can secure the prestigious title -- a feat no automobile manufacturer has ever achieved in the most popular international touring car racing series.
In 2007, Mattias Ekstrom kept Mercedes driver Bruno Spengler at bay at Hockenheim. Last year, Timo Scheider kept his cool and did not give Paul Di Resta a chance. Both times, Audi had come to Hockenheim with an advantage of just two points. In 2009, the cushion is clearly bigger: Timo Scheider has 56 points to his credit; his immediate rival Gary Paffett has seven points less. Ten points will still be awarded at Hockenheim.
Consequently, the starting base before the finale is relatively simple: Paffett has to win or finish second in order to thwart Audi's plans. If the Briton should win, Scheider needs to finish fifth to successfully defend the title. If Paffett finishes as the runner-up, the Audi driver has to at least take seventh place. In any other constellation, the new and old champion will be Timo Scheider.
The statistics speak in favor of the 30-year-old as well: Since Audi's return to the DTM with a "factory" commitment, no driver has managed beating the leader of the standings in the title decision at Hockenheim, and the most recent Hockenheim track record of the Audi brand is impressive too: Four times in a row, the car starting from the pole position at the German Grand Prix circuit in the most recent races was an Audi A4. Audi decided the last three DTM races at the Hockenheimring in its favor. And at the season opener in May 2009, the brand with the four rings even clinched a one-two-three-four victory. The best Mercedes saw the checkered flag more than 20 seconds later.
In addition, as a result of the way the season has gone so far, the 2009-spec Audi A4 DTM cars can start from the grid with five kilograms less weight than at the first race in May while the current cars of their rivals will start with five more kilograms.
Nevertheless, everyone in the Audi squad realizes that the title has not been secured yet by any means. For one, after two defeats, the opponent will leave no stone unturned to clinch the championship after all. For the other, the 2009 season showed more than once that in the DTM anything is possible and even a lead of seven points is no guarantee.
Consequently, the squad around Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich will not rely on Timo Scheider scoring the required points. It will try and clinch a one-two win and lock in the championship that way.
The title decision somewhat overshadows Tom Kristensen's last race in the DTM. The 42-year-old -- and thus oldest -- driver in the DTM field plans to fully concentrate on racing sports cars for Audi and will contest his last DTM race at Hockenheim. By clinching victory in the season opener at the same venue he proved that he is still capable of winning races in the DTM. And Kristensen would love to say goodbye to his fans in the DTM with a victory as well.
Tickets for the eagerly awaited DTM finale are available on the internet at www.audi-dtm.de. ARD will broadcast the qualifying sessions live on Saturday (October 24) and the race on Sunday (October 25), starting at 1:45 (German time) from Hockenheim.
Quotes before the DTM finale
Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport): "Our starting base before the finale is even better than last year when Timo (Scheider) only had a two-point lead. That's why've got a positive feeling, particularly since our performance in the first race of the season at Hockenheim was very good and we clinched a one-two-three-four victory for Audi. We need to tackle the task in a focused manner to again deliver a good team performance at the finale. If we manage that, then we should be able to successfully defend the championship -- fully aware of the fact that it's difficult and that our strong rival will surely give everything within his means to turn the tables once more. Therefore, working with full concentration is all the more important."
Timo Scheider (GW:plus/Top Service Audi A4 DTM 2009 #1), 1st place 1 (56 points) "After the poor qualifying at Dijon-Prenois I expected the worst case, in other words that I'd have a maximum advantage of two points at Hockenheim. I said that anything above a two-point lead would be an exploit. In the end, my lead over Gary (Paffett) amounted to seven points. Of course that's a very positive feeling. On the one hand I feel a little sorry for Mattias (Ekstrom), on the other I've got to look at my own position and say: there's one less rival in the title fight! That can help a bit to stay focused. At Hockenheim, I already had the chance of experiencing how exhilarating the feeling after the championship fight can be. It would be the greatest and best thing for me to be able to clinch this exploit again in front of a German audience and to celebrate it. In any event, this is my dream."
Mattias Ekstrom (Red Bull Audi A4 DTM 2009 #5), 3rd place (41 points) "I'll give everything I've got to defend my third place. I look forward to the season finale at Hockenheim. Some of my friends will be at the race again. The last round of the season is always very special. And Hockenheim is even more or less a home race for me because, living in Switzerland, I really don't live far away from there."
Martin Tomczyk (Red Bull Cola Audi A4 DTM 2009 #6), 6th place (35 points) "Hockenheim will surely be a really great race. We'll start with ten kilograms less weight than our rivals and thus no doubt have the best prerequisites for clinching the championship -- and of course I'll have a good chance to get back on fourth place in the championship."
Tom Kristensen (100 Jahre Audi -- A4 DTM 2009 #2), 8th place (21 points) "I look forward to Hockenheim, that'll be super. For the spectators, too, it'll probably be a dream round. We've got a very good chance with Audi and of course I'm hoping for Timo (Scheider) to be able to win the championship there. Now, if I only knew who won the first race of the season at Hockenheim, I'd say I'd try and do the same thing at my last DTM race ..."
Oliver Jarvis (Audi Cup A4 DTM 2008 #15), 9th place (15 points) "I can't believe it; this is already the season's finale. The year went by incredibly fast and I can only say that I can hardly wait to return to Hockenheim -- to a circuit I really like a lot. Now it's about everything because the championship has not yet been decided. I want to drive a strong race and score a few points."
Markus Winkelhock (Playboy Audi A4 DTM 2008 #12), 10th place (10 points) "Hockenheim is my home race. The atmosphere there is really special. There's always a large turnout of spectators at both the season opener and the finale. That's why I'm happy to be racing there again. My goal is the same as always: I'm hoping that we'll be reasonably competitive and that I'll be able to score a small point at the end of the season. That would be great."
Mike Rockenfeller (S line Audi A4 DTM 2008 #11), 13th place (4 points) "I'm looking forward to the last race of the season because things are looking better for us again as far as weight is concerned. Dijon was a somewhat difficult weekend -- and for me it's been a difficult year. That's why I'm hoping for a nice result at the final race in order to start the winter with a good feeling. I was fast in the tests at Hockenheim but unfortunately 'slipped' a little in qualifying on the first race weekend. Unfortunately, the race was over as early as after the first lap. Now, I'm hoping to still clinch a good result at the end of the season."
Alexandre Premat (Audi Bank A4 DTM 2008 #14), 14th place (1 point) "At Barcelona, I scored my first point; after that I had nice battles for points up to the penultimate round in my home race at Dijon-Prenois. Now I'm hoping for a good finale for Timo Scheider and Audi, as well as for my team, Phoenix, and for myself at Hockenheim."
Katherine Legge (Audi Collection A4 DTM 2008 #21), 18th place (0 points) "At Hockenheim, my season with Team Abt Sportsline started and now we're returning there and the squad is fighting for the title with Timo Scheider. I think the spectators can look forward to a really special race. And I want to give my very best to clinch a good place in front of as large an audience as possible."
Hans-Jurgen Abt (Team Director Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline): "I'm absolutely looking forward to Hockenheim. The fans will be pleased because we're keeping them in suspense up to the very end. We've got great chances and are superbly sorted. We know how well our car works at Hockenheim. And of course I'm hoping that the trophy will truly go to Ingolstadt, Neckarsulm and Kempten."
Ernst Moser (Team Director Audi Sport Team Phoenix): "As early as in spring it was obvious that the year-old cars are very competitive at Hockenheim. That's why all of us will jointly try and achieve a good result at Hockenheim. That's where it'll primarily be about the championship for Audi."
Arno Zensen (Team Director Audi Sport Team Rosberg): "It'll again be a grand finale -- just like last year. The champion will be selected at Hockenheim, which again guarantees a full house. We look forward to the race, particularly since it's our home race. Of course we want to deliver a good showing there."
Facts and figures
The DTM track record of 1m 32.069s in qualifying at Hockenheim is held by Mattias Ekstrom, set in May 2009 in Q3 ... The last three winners at Hockenheim were Mattias Ekstrom (2008 season opener), Timo Scheider (2009 finale) and Tom Kristensen (2009 season opener) ... In May, Mattias Ekstrom lost a victory that almost seemed to be sure two laps before the finish due to a puncture -- Tom Kristensen will contest his 60th and last DTM race at Hockenheim, Alexandre Premat his 30th.
Timo Scheider about the circuit at Hockenheim: "Hockenheim is a modern circuit featuring all the types of corners a race track can possibly offer: very fast turns where you drive across the curbs, hairpins and corners with large run-off areas. The atmosphere at the 'Motodrom' is unique. Driving at the 2008 finale in front of 165,000 spectators put goose bumps all over my skin. In addition, Hockenheim is one of the few circuits offering more than one overtaking opportunity. So it's not absolutely necessary to start from pole --even though it's nice to do so..."