Audi aims to defend DTM championship lead
Ingolstadt -- Hockenheim, Oschersleben, Mugello and now the EuroSpeedway -- the action moves on quickly in the 2008 DTM. Only 14 days after the excursion to Italy the most popular international touring car series returns to Germany. Audi aims to defend the DTM championship lead at the EuroSpeedway Lausitz.
The new Audi A4 DTM is unbeaten on German soil. This should remain so if possible, even if the four cars fielded by Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline must again race with additional success ballast. This time the handicap to Mercedes is ten kilograms. And it does not stop here: The year old A4 Audis are also heavier than the rivals from Stuttgart.
The last time Audi won in the DTM at the EuroSpeedway was during the 2005 season. Then Mattias Ekstrom had a breathtaking duel with Mercedes driver Gary Paffett over the entire race distance. The win also went to Mattias Ekstrom last year -- admittedly after the race, since the Mercedes that crossed the line in front of him did not have the correct amount of fuel in the tank as stipulated by the regulations.
Mercedes won at the EuroSpeedway in 2006 and 2007, whereby last year's race finished in commotion due to the contentious use of the Safety Car. After much discussion only half points were awarded.
Timo Scheider was the only Audi driver to score points in the Lausitz last year. This time, the German comes as championship leader to the EuroSpeedway. The 29-year old took pole position with the new Audi A4 DTM at each of the first three races and celebrated his first DTM victory at Oschersleben. Scheider also mounted the podium at Hockenheim. The Audi driver was a little unlucky at Mugello: Because his car lurched forward when the start-lights were still red Scheider was awarded a drive-through penalty. Without this mishap the German would certainly have more than a one-point lead in the standings over Mercedes driver Jamie Green.
DTM fans can enjoy the close battle at the head of the table: After three races the first seven are separated by a mere seven points and therefore all have a chance of leaving the EuroSpeedway as championship leader. Four drivers of the new Audi A4 DTM, who are currently first, third, fifth and sixth, are among the contenders.
The race at the EuroSpeedway starts on Sunday (18 May) at 2:00 p.m. local time. ARD broadcasts live from the Lausitz on "Das Erste" from 1:45 p.m. local time. Qualifying is also broadcast live on "Das Erste" (from 1:30 p.m. local time). Free practice on Saturday morning can be seen live on www.dtm.tv. Background features and interviews are available on Audi tv.
Quotes before the race at the EuroSpeedway
Dr Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport): "Over the last few years things haven't usually run so well for us in the Lausitz. However, this shouldn't be a reason not to do things much better this year. We'll concentrate on bringing home another good result."
Mattias Ekstrom (Red Bull Audi A4 DTM #1): "I'm really looking forward to the Lausitz. I think that it'll be a tough battle again for the points. The championship is incredibly close. At the end every point will be important."
Martin Tomczyk (Red Bull Audi A4 DTM #2): "The EuroSpeedway will be a huge challenge for us because Mercedes was always very strong there over the last few years. We'll prepare ourselves for a tough race. Audi has a new car; however, we are unsure as to just how well we can tune it to suit the circuit. Maybe we'll have a little more potential than in the previous years."
Tom Kristensen (Audi A4 DTM #9): "The EuroSpeedway is the complete opposite of Mugello: In Italy there were long and fast corners, in the Lausitz there are predominantly slow corners and direction changes. The majority of the corners are taken in second or third gear; there is only one fast corner. At every other point it's all about braking and traction. The tarmac has very little grip. I'm convinced that my edelweiss car will be strong there also. I want to continue my improving trend."
Timo Scheider (GW:plus/Top Service Audi A4 DTM #10): "I'm pleased that our cars are ten kilos lighter than at Mugello. We have a good package, and I'm still at the top of the table. I hope that I can defend the lead at the EuroSpeedway. It won't be easy but we are heading in the right direction. The new A4 was very strong in the first three races."
Alexandre Premat (Audi Bank/Shell Helix Audi A4 DTM #14): "I really like the circuit and was the best Audi driver in qualifying there last year. The circuit is quite fast, has a couple of tight chicanes, and it's difficult to be really fast there."
Oliver Jarvis (Best Buddies Audi A4 DTM #15): "This'll be my first time at the EuroSpeedway Lausitz, so I'll have a lot to learn. However, together with Audi Sport Team Phoenix I want to continue our strong form and hope to have a good race."
Mike Rockenfeller (S line Audi A4 DTM #18): "It won't be any easier at the Lausitzring because we'll have another five kilos in the car. Our pace wasn't so good last year, so it'll be even more difficult than at Mugello. I'm personally not a great fan of the track, but I'll try everything. I'm hoping to have a race without an accident. Then with a little bit of luck you can finish in the points."
Markus Winkelhock (Playboy Audi A4 DTM #19): "The track has always suited my style. I won one of my first Formula 3 races there, which is why I hope that I'll also be on the pace in the DTM."
Katherine Legge (Audi A4 DTM #20): "I'm already really looking forward to the EuroSpeedway -- even though it's a circuit that I've never driven on. The track looks as if it should be a lot of fun to learn."
Christijan Albers (Audi A4 DTM #21): "It'll probably be very difficult at the EuroSpeedway. I wasn't particularly successful there in 2003 and 2004. But now I'm driving an Audi! I was flying towards the end of the race at Mugello. I hope that things continue as they are. My motto is maximum attack!"
Hans-Jurgen Abt (Team Director Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline): "After the 'Mugello escapade' you just have to look forwards. The performance of our car is spot-on. I'm not feeling uncomfortable about the Lausitzring. There is always a great atmosphere there. I hope that we can rectify everything that went wrong at Mugello and strike back."
Ernst Moser (Team Director Audi Sport Team Phoenix): "I never thought that with a year old car we would actually have the second heaviest car in the field. It won't really help us but we have a really good car. Our target at the Lausitz is also to get as far up as possible in qualifying and to score points in the race."
Arno Zensen (Team Director Audi Sport Team Rosberg): "We are looking forward to the Lausitz. Things ran extremely well for us in the last two races. I never expected that we would claim three points scoring finishes in the second and third races. I hope that we can take this momentum with us to the Lausitz and exploit it."