Audi aims to score a 2-1 at Lausitz
Ingolstadt, May 28, 2010 - Return to Germany: with Mattias Ekstrom's 14th DTM victory in its pocket, Audi returns to Germany from the DTM's first round at Valencia, Spain. The third round of Europe's most popular touring car series will be held at the EuroSpeedway Lausitz from June 4 to 6. The Swede has a very special relationship with this circuit.
The DTM audience is experiencing an extremely thrilling beginning of the 2010 season: after the season opener at Hockenheim, which ended in disappointment for Audi, the brand with the four rings managed to counter with a commanding victory at Valencia. After race wins, best qualifying times and fastest laps, the score between the two manufacturers is now level at 1. The standings, as well, reflect the equilibrium: Mattias Ekstrom ranks in second place of the championship with just a small gap behind Bruno Spengler.
Before climbing into his Audi A4 DTM again at the EuroSpeedway the Swede fulfilled a dream: right after his first DTM victory Ekstrom tested a NASCAR race car in the United States at the invitation of Audi's partner Red Bull and left a strong impression there as well.
The circuit in the Lausitz region that was originally designed for American high-speed races and inaugurated in 2000 may remind the Swede of the typical ovals in the U.S. but the DTM uses only a small part of the tri-oval. The remainder of the circuit is located on the infield. And this combination obviously suits Ekstrom particularly well: in his 2001 debut season he finished third there, clinching his first podium result. To date, Ekstrom has mounted the podium at Lausitz seven times. The Swede also contributed the only two victories Audi has so far achieved on the circuit north of Dresden, in 2004 and 2007.
Parallels between Valencia and the EuroSpeedway
A look at the results of the past few years shows that the EuroSpeedway Lausitz has not exactly been the best track for the Audi A4 DTM. But thanks to the most recent experiences in Valencia this situation might change - because there are some parallels between the two circuits.
The commonalities are mainly related to the aspect of tarmac quality. "The track at Valencia offers only little grip," analyzes Dr. Martin Muhlmeier, Head of Technology at Audi Sport. "A very similar situation exists on the tarmac of the EuroSpeedway, which is smooth and not very porous. Obviously, we're hoping to be able to make efficient use of our findings there again. At Valencia we were rewarded for our effort of very carefully studying the tires. Despite the high track temperatures there we managed to combine very good performance with top durability in our set-up."
From Lausitz to Le Mans
Immediately after crossing the finish line at the EuroSpeedway Lausitz three of the nine Audi drivers will embark on their next major commitment. As early as on the evening of race day Oliver Jarvis, Mike Rockenfeller and Timo Scheider will fly to France to contest the Le Mans 24 Hours. Mike Rockenfeller will drive one of the Audi R15 TDI cars entered by Audi Sport Team Joest. Oliver Jarvis will compete in an Audi R10 TDI of the private Kolles team. Timo Scheider will make his Le Mans debut at the wheel of a GT2 Porsche.
Other topics of the weekend
- Will Audi manage to bring about a change at the top of the standings?
- Will skillful handling of the tires influence the balance of power between the manufacturers again at the EuroSpeedway, which offers very low grip?
- Which manufacturer will be the first to achieve two wins this season?
- Will rookie Miguel Molina score points for the third consecutive time?
- Will over 70,000 spectators turn out for the DTM round at Lausitz, as they have every year since 2006?
Quotes by the officials
Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport): "At Hockenheim and at Valencia the entire Audi crew showed that we've got a very good basic performance with our car. This is true for the newer and the older cars. After a lot of work we managed to get a handle on the tire problems we had at Hockenheim for Valencia. But we certainly know that there's new work to be done at every race track. It's always about bringing good performance in line with durability. If Valencia and the EuroSpeedway Lausitz have anything in common, it's the grip of the tarmac. On both circuits it offers only little grip. We had a very good solution for this on the second race weekend. This might help us at the EuroSpeedway Lausitz."
Hans-Jurgen Abt (Team Director Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline): "At Valencia we won, but our team performance wasn't good enough yet. We know that all of our drivers are capable of fighting for top positions. It's now up to us to work even harder, prepare ourselves even better and to offer the drivers an optimal environment. If we do that, then we'll be able to achieve the solid team performance again that the fans expect of the Abt squad."
Ernst Moser (Team Director Audi Sport Team Phoenix): "Once from the west to the east, from the "Eifel" to the "Lausitz." The EuroSpeedway Lausitz is special in some respects. It's a mix: we've got some fast turns whereas on narrow passages you've got to let the car coast. It's not easy to find the right set-up and the drivers have to work out their rhythms too. Tire wear should be relatively low. It's important to be in front in qualifying and not to make any mistakes in the race. If we show the same performance as we did at Valencia, we'll have a chance to be very far at the front."
Arno Zensen (Team Director Audi Sport Team Rosberg): "The EuroSpeedway is a spacious, modern facility. There is plenty of space for working, which reduces the risks during pit stops too. Situations like the near-collision between Markus Winkelhock and Paul Di Resta at Valencia can hardly happen there. For Katherine (Legge), it's important to be fit again after her illness at Valencia. My wish is that we'll be a bit more fortunate again this time."
Facts and quotes by the Audi drivers
Mattias Ekstrom (31/S), Red Bull Audi A4 DTM #5 (Audi Sport Team Abt
- Was on the pole position at the EuroSpeedway last year
- Tested a NASCAR race car between two DTM rounds
"It's always nice to race at the EuroSpeedway because I've got plenty of fond memories of this track. We've got to do a perfect job of preparing ourselves because, historically, Mercedes has always been strong there. Basically, we can expect similar conditions as at Valencia: the tarmac doesn't have a lot of grip and the track is generally slippery. As far as that goes, we can benefit from our experiences in Spain."
Oliver Jarvis (26/GB), Tabac Original Audi A4 DTM #2 (Audi Sport Team
- After Valencia, tested in an Audi R10 TDI of the Kolles team to prepare for the Le Mans 24 Hours
- Was headed for a podium at Valencia before retiring on the 38th of 45 laps
"After the first two weekends I can barely wait to get back into the cockpit in order to finish a race and score points. Mercedes was strong at Lausitz in recent years. But this year everything's different. We made a big step forward with the car and with understanding the tires."
Katherine Legge (29/GB), Glamour Audi A4 DTM #15 (Audi Sport Team
- Had to skip the race at Valencia due to an infection
- Started the race from the fifth row at Lausitz last year
"I would really have loved to race at Valencia but accept that it was the best solution not to risk my health. I'm hoping to be fit again and to be able to get back into the cockpit of my Audi A4 DTM at Lausitz where I qualified for position nine on the grid last year. This had been my best result up to that point in time. It would be nice to continue that."
Miguel Molina (21/E), Audi Bank A4 DTM #18 (Audi Sport Rookie Team Abt)
- Was greeted by his fan club from Lloret de Mar at his home round
- Has remained the only one of the three 2010 DTM rookies to have scored points
"First, I'll have to get used to a new track. There's enough time for that in the DTM. Then we need to develop in the direction that has made us successful in the first two races as well."
Alexandre Premat (28/F), TV Movie Audi A4 DTM #9 (Audi Sport Team
- Achieved a podium result in a year-old car for the third time in his career at Valencia
- In eighth place of the standings, is the third-best driver of a year-old car in the field
"I really like this track. I've always been fast there. My goal is clear: scoring many points and fighting for a podium position. The vehicles with different specifications have never been so balanced since I entered the DTM in 2007. This is good for the strategies of the teams and puts more pressure on all of us - and that's good."
Mike Rockenfeller (26/D), S line Audi A4 DTM #10 (Audi Sport Team
- Started from the second row at Lausitz last year
- With two point finishes in a row, experienced his best start into a DTM season with Audi
"It's nice to drive in Germany again. In 2009 I was fourth in qualifying at Lausitz. I'm hoping for a good qualifying result again this year - and for a lot of points. But it's always difficult to find a good set-up for this circuit. So, Team Phoenix and I are in for a demanding job."
Timo Scheider (31/D), GW:plus/Top Service Audi A4 DTM #1 (Audi Sport Team
- Managed a remarkable recovery from grid position ten to fourth place at Valencia
- After driving "car number 100" in Spain on the occasion of his 100th race is returning to the champion's "number one"
"I like the EuroSpeedway. Audi had a relatively difficult time there in recent years. But we're arriving with a good feeling from Valencia and are hoping to continue our exploit. And who says that times couldn't change and that we'll be the quicker ones now? The track has a lot of different combinations of turns and we run hard over the kerbs in the first corner. I like the layout of the circuit."
Martin Tomczyk (28/D), Red Bull Cola Audi A4 DTM #6 (Audi Sport Team Abt
- Strong sporting performance at Valencia went unrewarded after a formal team error
- Has gotten engaged to his years-long friend Christina Surer
"The EuroSpeedway is a new challenge this year. We don't know how the tires will perform there. This means another piece of new territory. In the past we saw a close and fierce battle between Audi and Mercedes there. That's why we're assuming that the situation will again be extremely close this time. I'm hoping for us to keep the upper hand."
Markus Winkelhock (29/D), Playboy/GW:plus Audi A4 DTM #14 (Audi Sport
- Achieved fifth row on the grid at Lausitz last year
"Unfortunately, I've always had a bit of misfortune in the races at Lausitz in recent years and never finished with a good result. Personally, I think it's not the most exciting track on the calendar. Still, I always manage to handle it well and celebrated my first Formula 3 victory there."