Audi successfully defends DTM title
Ingolstadt/Hockenheim -- The most extensive motorsport programme in the history of AUDI AG is now the most successful one as well: following the triumph at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the title wins at the Le Mans series in North America and Europe, Timo Scheider with a victory at the finale at Hockenheim also secured the title in the DTM. This means that, for the first time since 1990/1991, Audi successfully defended the title in the most popular international touring car racing series. In addition, with eight pole positions and six victories, the new Audi A4 DTM in its debut year was the most successful car of the season and superior to the Mercedes-Benz C-Class.
"Sincere congratulations to Timo Scheider and the entire Audi squad. With his strong performance, his consistency and his strong nerves, Timo is a worthy champion, who thrilled the fans this season," said Rupert Stadler, Chairman of the Board of Management of AUDI AG, who watched the gripping finale at Hockenheim from the garage of Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline. "This triumph in the DTM crowns what has been a successful motorsport year for Audi anyhow, in which -- in addition to victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans -- we were able to celebrate the titles in the American Le Mans Series and the European-based Le Mans Series. During the course of the year and particularly here at Hockenheim, Timo and Paul di Resta delivered thrilling, top-calibre motorsport. This makes us all the happier about our triumph in front of this impressive turnout at the finale. The Audi A4 was unbeatable during this DTM season and led the standings from the first to the last race. We're already looking forward to the opportunity of defending the title in the next season."
In front of a record crowd of 165,000 spectators Timo Scheider held up to the pressure of his rival Paul di Resta. With an absolutely flawless drive he impressively clinched the first DTM title in his career. With a perfect start Timo Scheider already decided the duel against Paul di Resta in his favour. The Audi driver overtook his rival for the title and afterwards managed to keep him at bay, although Scheider had to do with one set of fresh tyres less in the race than di Resta.
Pit stops -- performed as quickly as usual -- and a perfect strategy enabled Scheider to drive freely throughout the race and, in the end, cross the finish line as the cheerfully celebrated victor and new DTM Champion with a 3.062-second lead.
But the squad of Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline performed a major feat across the board. After Scheider had very heavily hit a kerb with the base plate of the engine in Saturday's qualifying, causing his GW:plus/Top Service Audi A4 DTM to jump five metres, the mechanics completely dismantled the car and also changed the engine for safety reasons -- which is permitted in the DTM once per year without any penalty -- and completely re-assembled the car by working into the early morning hours. At 3:45 a.m. the A4 was back on its wheels. Less than twelve hours later, Scheider clinched the champion's title in it.
The second-best Audi driver at Hockenheim was Tom Kristensen, who made an impressive recovery from seventh to fifth place and, in the final phase, even caught the three Mercedes cars of Paul di Resta, Jamie Green and Bruno Spengler who were running in front of him.
With seventh place in the race, last year's champion Mattias Ekstrom secured third place in the overall classification. The Swede, who had started from pole position, gave way to his team-mate Timo Scheider straight after the start and on the first lap dropped to fourth place due to a tussle with Paul di Resta and Jamie Green. Later, a stop-and-go penalty was imposed against the Swede because his Red Bull Audi A4 DTM was not standing precisely on its grid position.
With Martin Tomczyk finishing eighth, all four drivers of Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline scored points at the finale.
As in qualifying, Mike Rockenfeller, who finished ninth, was the best driver of a car from last year. Oliver Jarvis and Alexandre Premat occupied places ten and 13. Markus Winkelhock and Christijan Albers on the second lap became the victims of a failed attack by Mercedes driver Mathias Lauda. Katherine Legge damaged her A4 in a collision with Susie Stoddart.
Quotes after the race
Dr Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport): "That was a dream finale in front of an impressive turnout. As early as at the start you could feel that the spectators were in for a very special race today. Timo (Scheider) managed an absolute mega start and immediately moved to the front. After that, it was clear for us to choose a strategy allowing him to drive his speed with as few interruptions as possible. The pit stops today were important and worked out perfectly. Timo has clinched the championship on his own strength. There's no better way of capturing a title than this. After the victories at Le Mans, in the ALMS and the LMS, the championship in the DTM finally makes the motorsport year a perfect one for Audi."
Timo Scheider (GW:plus/Top Service Audi A4 DTM #10): "Today, a dream has come true for me. I want to thank Audi, my team, Abt Sportsline, and all my fans for their support and the trust they've placed in me. The year 2008 was incredible for me: I've been leading the championship since the second race and experienced so many great moments. After my mistake in qualifying my boys had to put in a night shift to repair my Audi A4. Despite getting only a few hours of sleep they performed perfect pit stops today, as usual. I can promise them that they won't get any sleep tonight either -- that serves them right."
Tom Kristensen (Audi A4 DTM #9): "Our race set-up was very good. I was the quickest in the warm-up. Starting from eighth on the grid always makes things difficult in the DTM. Of course we supported Timo (Scheider), otherwise I could have reduced my own gap a little. I'm therefore very satisfied with fifth place and the good lap times in the last race of the season. Congratulations to Timo and to everyone at Audi as well as to Dr Ullrich on Audi's most successful motorsport season of all time. We can really be proud of this."
Mattias Ekstrom (Red Bull Audi A4 DTM #1): "Our goal for the weekend was for Audi to win the title. We managed this and in the end it was a fair result and a well-deserved title for Audi. We had the best car this year. The first race was really good already and that's how things continued throughout the season. My race today was very exciting -- primarily the first half lap. My start wasn't perfect and Timo (Scheider) was coming from behind. I fought hard with the colleagues from Mercedes. My own result wasn't so important today -- it was all about Audi and the title."
Martin Tomczyk (Red Bull Audi A4 DTM #2): "After making up ground at the start, I had an exciting first lap with Bruno (Spengler) and Tom (Kristensen). Unfortunately, it didn't end favourably for me. The rest of the race then was quite okay. So I just finished my race. I enjoyed the fact that Timo (Scheider) has become the champion."
Mike Rockenfeller (S line Audi A4 DTM #18): "The start was turbulent. I was getting through pretty well, but lost a position to Oliver (Jarvis). I fought the whole time with him -- hard but fair. Fortunately, after the second stop I passed him and was a lot quicker. Towards the front, a big gap had opened up. We're simply not as fast as the new cars. We exploited the potential to the max. That's why I'm satisfied and hoping for a good next year. My thanks to the team. The car was really handling well today."
Oliver Jarvis (Best Buddies Audi A4 DTM #15): "I had a good start and overtook 'Rocky' by the time we reached Turn 1. I also moved alongside Tom Kristensen, but took it easy on the first lap. In ninth place I found a good rhythm, even though 'Rocky' was putting on pressure. After the first stop I got back out in front of him. During the stop a wheel nut dropped to the ground which cost us three seconds. That's when 'Rocky' passed us. I gave everything once more but only finished tenth. The result is okay. I had a good season and it's been a good year with the Phoenix team."
Alexandre Premat (Audi Bank/Shell Helix Audi A4 DTM #14): "Sincere congratulations to Timo Scheider, who won the race with a nice lead. That was superb for him him and for Audi. My race was rather uneventful. I was driving in a group with 'Rocky' and Oliver (Jarvis). Unfortunately, we made a small strategic mistake and stayed out a little too long before pitting. Towards the end I lost part of my rear bodywork. Surprisingly, the car was still amazingly easy to control. All in all, I'm satisfied."
Katherine Legge (Audi A4 DTM #20): "I had a good start. In Turn 1 my car and that of Susie Stoddart's slightly touched because my brakes had not warmed up sufficiently yet. The body was clearly damaged. We thought that they bonnet coming off might damage the engine. The team repaired it and I returned to the race."
Markus Winkelhock (Playboy Audi A4 DTM #19): "The start was superb. In the first turns I moved up several positions. Up to that point, the car was not bad. I was closely approaching a group with Mike Rockenfeller and Alex Premat. When I was braking into the hairpin Mathias Lauda hit me in the rear and pushed me onto Christijan Albers' car. That destroyed the front of my car. Then, at the entrance to the Mercedes Arena, Susie Stoddart hit me in the rear as well."
Christijan Albers (Audi A4 DTM #21): "I had a pretty decent start. I overtook several rivals and on the second lap passed a few more cars in front of me, including Gary Paffett's.Things were really going well. When we came back to the hairpin Markus Winkelhock was pushed into my rear end. The impact was pretty hard, even the wing broke off. That's a real shame because we very quick in the warm-up. And on the first laps my car was really quick too."
Hans-Jurgen Abt (Team Director Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline): "I'm totally thrilled. Today everyone could see again how the golden boys from Kempten and Ingolstadt work together. It's simply crazy: it seems that under pressure we can't be beaten. We made no mistakes today -- neither Timo did (Scheider) nor we as far as our strategy was concerned. That's the only way you can become champion in DTM. Congratulations to the whole team and all the responsible players."
Ernst Moser (Team Director Audi Sport Team Phoenix): "Congratulations to Audi. Timo (Scheider) drove a commanding race today, his team had the optimum strategy. We tried to contribute our share throughout the season. I'm overjoyed that the brand won in front of this crowd and happy to be part of the action. Our two drivers drove a tactical race half-way through. Otherwise, Alex (Premat) would have moved further to the front. I've been happy to have two good drivers like these throughout the season."
Arno Zensen (Team Director Audi Sport Team Rosberg): "Huge congratulations to Dr Ullrich, the squad and to Timo (Scheider). I was so happy. Two years ago he was driving for us and now he's the champion. As far as our race is concerned: 'Rocky' had a superb drive and made no mistakes. Unfortunately, more than ninth place was not possible. Thank you for a great year. Markus was not to blame at all for his situation. What happened was a real shame! Out pit stops were great. My thanks to the squad, to the drivers, my thanks to Audi Sport and to Dr Ullrich."