Audi starts from second row at EuroSpeedway
Ingolstadt/Klettwitz -- Audi's Timo Scheider remains the best Audi factory driver in qualifying in the 2008 DTM season: the German will tackle the fourth DTM round at the EuroSpeedway Lausitz in his GW:plus/Top Service Audi A4 DTM from position three on the grid. This marks the end of a string of eight best times in a row set by Audi since July 2007.
After the two victories at Hockenheim and Oschersleben, the four 2008-spec Audi A4 DTM cars still weigh ten kilograms more than the Mercedes of the same model year due to their success ballast. The free practice sessions had already suggested that this handicap would be hard to compensate for on the 3.478-kilometre circuit in the Lausitz region.
With a gap of approximately three tenths of a second to Mercedes driver Paul di Resta at the front of the field, Timo Scheider in third place overall, and as the best Audi driver -- in free practice as well as in qualifying -- was roughly within the window which Audi Sport had predicted in simulations as a result of the additional ballast. Scheider -- with a lap time of 1m 17.954s -- was the only Audi driver to stay below the 1.18-minute mark in the third qualifying segment. The 29-year-old professional racer had previously improved in each segment.
Mattias Ekstrom on position four, who had managed setting the best time in the first qualifying segment, in the end was merely lacking 67 thousandths of a second to his German Audi brand colleague with whom he will share row two on the grid.
One row behind them, Martin Tomczyk will start to the race from position six. Tom Kristensen in the fourth Audi A4 DTM of Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline improved from the second to the third qualifying segment from eighth to seventh position, meaning that the Dane will start from the fourth row.
The best driver of a year-old car -- yet again -- was Oliver Jarvis. The British DTM newcomer, who had been the quickest driver of a used car in the whole field at the first two rounds at Hockenheim and Oschersleben, will start from ninth place. This means that the EuroSpeedway Lausitz is the first venue of the season where none of the drivers of year-old cars managed to make it into the third qualifying segment of the top eight drivers. For the fourth consecutive time, the best driver of a car from last year is an Audi driver.
Behind Oliver Jarvis, Mike Rockenfeller, Markus Winkelhock and the Frenchman Alexandre Premat follow in three more year-old Audi cars on places ten to twelve, while Ralf Schumacher as the best driver of a year-old Mercedes merely occupies 13th place. Christijan Albers in the 2006-spec Audi A4 DTM of the Futurecom-TME team in 14th place equalised his best qualifying result of the season so far.
The race at the EuroSpeedway Lausitz will start at 2 p.m. on Sunday. ARD broadcast the fourth round of the season live on "Das Erste" starting at1:45 p.m. (local time).
Quotes after qualifying
Dr Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport): "The qualifying went almost as expected: while it was obvious that we're positioned much better than last year, the EuroSpeedway continues to be a circuit that simply suits our rivals better than us. In addition, we still carry ten more kilos in our cars, which do hurt us a bit. That's why having two of our boys on the second row is a decent starting for the race on Sunday."
Timo Scheider (GW:plus/Top Service Audi A4 DTM #10): "We knew before that the situation would be tough for us here at the EuroSpeedway. Not only because of our higher weight, which we're carrying on account of our exploits, but also because this circuit has traditionally suited Mercedes better than us. But looking back on previous years, we've clearly made up ground and closed the gap to our rivals here in the Lausitz. Tomorrow, the cards will be re-shuffled. Second row on the grid is a pretty good base to start from -- and in the DTM anything's possible."
Mattias Ekstrom (Red Bull Audi A4 DTM #1): "Even though I didn't make it all the way to the front, I'm happy. The car's never been better this year and I'm looking forward to the race now."
Martin Tomczyk (Red Bull Audi A4 DTM #2): "The qualifying was okay. Granted, we're not at the very front, but Mercedes has always been strong at the Lausitzring, particularly when they're ten kilos lighter than we are. Still, it was a close result, and I think Audi is in good shape."
Tom Kristensen (Audi A4 DTM #9): "My Audi had fantastic grip and was very aggressive to drive. Unfortunately, I briefly went off into the gravel trap in the first qualifying session and damaged my underfloor in the process. After that, I wasn't able to set any very fast times any more."
Oliver Jarvis (Best Buddies Audi A4 DTM #15): "Friday and this morning I was still having some problems, so we changed the setup. That paid off and I'm satisfied with the qualifying result."
Mike Rockenfeller (S line Audi A4 DTM #18): "Tenth isn't quite what I'd been hoping for. The first qualifying went well. Unfortunately, Jamie Green showed up in front of my car in the second session and ruined my fast lap. But the car is good enough to finish the race in the points."
Markus Winkelhock (Playboy Audi A4 DTM #19): "The car wasn't bad, but I had higher expectations. Unfortunately, in the second qualifying, on my fast lap, I got into Oliver Jarvis's slip stream and my car started understeering."
Alexandre Premat (Audi Bank/Shell Helix Audi A4 DTM #14): "I'm satisfied. A flawless qualifying. The 2007-spec Audi cars are very, very close together and I'm in one of them. With a good start and a successful strategy it should be possible to score points like we did at Mugello."
Christijan Albers (Audi A4 DTM #21): "I think we used the full potential of the car in qualifying. I'm also pleased about the fact that my lap times are pretty consistent. Maybe a surprise will be possible in the race."
Katherine Legge (Audi A4 DTM #20): "So far, this hasn't been my best weekend. The EuroSpeedway is a difficult circuit. But over long distances on Friday and Saturday morning, we set good times, so I'm looking toward the race with optimism."
Hans-Jurgen Abt (Team Director Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline): "Of course it's a shame that our nice string of eight pole positions, which we were proud of, broke today. But with Timo (Scheider) and Mattias (Ekstrom), we've got two aces on the second row of the grid tomorrow, and they'll probably put some real pressure on the boys from Mercedes. The organisers are expecting a full house tomorrow and I believe the fans can look forward to a thrilling race."
Ernst Moser (Team Director Audi Sport Team Phoenix): "All 2007-spec Audi cars are now lined up one after the other and have left the year-old Mercedes rivals behind themselves, despite the additional weight. That's a convincing result."
Arno Zensen (Team Director Audi Sport Team Rosberg): "Both Markus and 'Rocky' hit traffic in the second qualifying, that was a pity. But we can live very well with grid positions ten and eleven."