Timo Scheider makes DTM history for Audi
Ingolstadt/Hockenheim -- Timo Scheider and Audi did it: Last year's winner successfully defended his DTM title in the 2009 season in the A4 DTM. This makes Audi the first brand to have won the title for the third consecutive time in the history of the DTM that has been held since 1984.
The old DTM champion is the new one as well: After 2008, Timo Scheider was again determined as the winner of the DTM. By finishing in second place, the Audi "factory" driver won the title in the finale at Hockenheim on October 25 for the second time in a row.
"I'm incredibly happy that we did it again -- and once more in front of a spectacular turnout on my home ground," beamed Timo Scheider after the finale at the circuit in Germany's "Baden" region. "I'm one-hundred-percent happy with my team and my Audi A4. That was the key to success throughout the season." Yet his lead at the end blurs the fact that the DTM field this year was even more competitive than it had been before. Whereas Scheider had been continually leading the standings from the second to the final, eleventh, round last year, the 2009 season was clearly filled with more suspense: Tom Kristensen, his team-mate in Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline, was running in front after the season opener. In the second race Timo Scheider moved up to the top of the standings, but lost the lead again in the fourth round to Mercedes driver Gary Paffett. After the fifth race, the Briton shared the lead with Audi "factory" driver Mattias Ekstrom with an equal points score. Only in the sixth race at the Nurburgring Timo Scheider got the upper hand again by a narrow margin -- with a one-point advantage over his team colleague Mattias Ekstrom.
Particularly during a phase when the championship was highly balanced, one of Timo Scheider's special strengths proved to be very helpful: For two years now, he has not only been very happy with the handling of the youngest generation of the Audi A4 DTM but, in addition to the necessary racing luck, also possesses the required strategic judgment. Trying to force the issue? No way. Instead, he acts prudently and strategically, makes smart decisions and attracts attention by the way he intelligently stands his ground -- sporting exactly the style of a great champion. On the evening before the race at Barcelona, for instance, he had his car fitted with a new clutch -- and launched himself from grid position five to first place with an unrivalled start. It was the second win of the season after Oschersleben and increased Scheider's lead of the standings by seven to twelve points.
Fierce competition from his own ranks and by Mercedes-Benz
Yet despite this advantage Scheider never underestimated his rivals. "I've never written anyone off because my lead can shrink very quickly," the candidate said in response to questions by journalists when he had the chance to win the title early. In fact, he only achieved position 16 on the grid at Dijon-Prenois. This did not disconcert him, though, and he advanced to sixth place, thus traveling to the finale with a seven-point lead over Gary Paffett. However, fierce competition not only emerged from the Mercedes-Benz camp but also his own squad. Mattias Ekstrom had chances of winning the title up until Dijon-Prenois as well. "Mattias is a racer through and through. Everyone wants to be the 'number one' at Audi. He'll surely give everything he's got to beat me," said Scheider, not deluding himself in the least bit before the round in France.
The career of the 30-year-old racer, who grew up in Braubach, about 70 kilometers away from the Nurburgring, was not always as brilliant as it is now: After taking his first steps in kart racing at the age of ten and clinching remarkable exploits in formula racing, he started racing in the DTM in the 2000 season, then aged 21. As early as in 2005 his up to then hapless DTM career seemed to be over. But in 2006 he returned to the high-caliber touring car series with Audi. It took 79 races until he was able to celebrate his first victory, last year at Oschersleben. He had broken his duck. Five victories and a total of 15 podium places within just two years underscore his true class.
Professionalism not only in the cockpit but also in dealing with media, his nearly endless patience for fans and a basically positive attitude are the traits that distinguish Timo Scheider as a person. And he is a prime example of the fact that sporting success does not have to lead to an extravagant lifestyle. In Lochau on the Austrian side of Lake Constance Timo Scheider, together with his fiancee Jasmin and son Loris, leads a life that is a far cry from the jet-set lifestyle in Monaco that many racers favor. The family man prefers recharging his batteries surrounded by family and friends around Lake Constance and also likes relaxing in the nearby mountains.
At the same time, the whole family has a penchant for anything to do with engines: Whether joint supermoto riding with Jasmin or first kart excursions of the merely six-year-old Loris -- Timo Scheider lives at top speed with his whole family. His fiancee as well as his parents often accompany him to the race track.
Convincing and sustainable commitment to social causes
Despite his success Timo Scheider never lost touch with the reality of the lives led by many people. His "Race-4-Kids" charity that was organized again this year resulted in proceeds of 20,000 euros which were donated to the "Stunde des Herzens" (Hour of the Heart) association which assists deprived children. In addition, the 2008 ADAC Racer of the Year supports the "Wings for Life" foundation benefiting spinal cord research as well as a campaign of the Baden-Wuerttemberg Ministry of Transportation that warns against the risks of drinking and driving.
Last year, Timo Scheider celebrated his DTM victory with some 600 guests on a boat on Lake Constance. His second title marks some historic achievements: In addition to having clinched the third consecutive title for Audi, Scheider -- along with Mattias Ekstrom -- is the only driver in the current field to have won two DTM champion's titles. And he is the first Audi driver to have managed this twice in a row. Before him, only one driver decided the DTM in his favor in two consecutive years: Bernd Schneider in 2000 and 2001 -- the driver with whom Scheider, due to the similarity of their names, was still, at times, confused by the media last year. But this should definitely be a thing of the past by now.
"The first title involved the highest amount of pressure," says Scheider, comparing his current exploit with last year's. "The second one is more enjoyable." And up to now only Bernd Schneider managed a successful title defense in the DTM. It's nice that the driver named Schneider without the 'n' can now continue this feat --"