Nancy Knapp Schilke
Edoardo Mortara set the fastest time in the final four shootout to place his Team Rosberg Audi A5 on the Pole in Spielberg, Austria. With a lap time of 1:26.171, the Italian nailed down his first Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (DTM) pole position on a day where the temperatures were just above 22C (72F) with track temperatures just above 39C (103F).
Yesterday during practice on the Red Bull Ring circuit, Mortara, who had dual citizenship in his homeland of Switzerland, ended up in the gravel but today he had the perfect lap.
Today, we’re celebrating pole!
The top rookie of the series in 2011 commented, "That was simply incredible! First, this fantastic helicopter flight and now my first pole position in the DTM! What can I say? Thank you to my guys from Team Rosberg, thank you to Audi Sport! The car was really great to drive today; it was truly enjoyable, although yesterday we still had a few difficulties. I made a small mistake and slipped off the track. But that was yesterday. Today, we’re celebrating pole!"
Points leader Gary Paffett just missed the pole by 0.121 with a lap time of 1:26.292. The Briton will start Sunday’s race in his THOMAS SABO Mercedes AMG C- Coupé on the front row.
Paffett said, “Qualifying second is a super result as far as I’m concerned. Obviously, every driver out there wants to be first all the time, but in a starting field as tight as this, it’s a major achievement just to get into the top four. I didn’t make a single mistake on my lap in Q4, but at the same time, I was determined not to take any risks. Although I didn’t manage to take pole like I did at Brands Hatch, the race is still completely open.”
Champions make up the second row with Mattias Ekstrom edging out Martin Tomczyk for third.
The Swede clocked a 1:26.319 for the Abt Sportsline Audi team. "That was a good qualifying session! In the third section I had three free laps and was thus able to finally make it into the last round again. It’s always the same there: Only a driver who doesn’t make the slightest mistake will end up on pole. I made a slight mistake. But the race is tomorrow, and we’ll give everything to be in contention for victory then."
The defending champion is aiming for his first podium finish this year with his new ride for 2012. Tomczyk’s best in his Team RMG M3 was a 1:26.408, and he said “On the one hand I am pleased with fourth place. On the other, however, I could have achieved an even better grid position. Unfortunately I made a slight mistake in the first corner of my flying lap in Q4. That cost me crucial fractions of a second. Whatever happens, I proved again today just how competitive our car is. Congratulations to Joey Hand. I am delighted he was able to show what he is capable of today. Thanks to BMW Team RMG. We have been in great shape here so far.”
Just missing the cut for the final four were American’s Joey Hand, and Canada’s Bruno Spengler. The duo sealed the third row for BMW.
The sportscar champion but new to DTM, Hand turned his best lap of 1:25.927 for Team RMG to land his highest grid position. “I am overjoyed to have made it into the top ten for the first time,” said Hand. “Fifth on the grid for tomorrow’s race is a fantastic starting position. The track in Spielberg suits my style of driving. After the first practice was far from perfect for us, everyone in BMW Team RMG worked hard to improve the situation, and we did that brilliantly. I’d like to thank the entire crew, who always believed in me and give me a lot of confidence.”
Team Schnitzer’s Spengler had a 1:25.963. “We took a bit longer to get going here than at the three previous races. It took a while to find a good set-up in the free practice sessions. It is nothing out of the ordinary to have a more difficult weekend, however. With this in mind, sixth is a good result. A lot is possible from the third row of the grid. I will certainly be on the attack.”
The fourth row belongs to Jamie Green in his Mercedes AMG C-Coupé with a 1:26.022, and Audi Team Rosberg’s Filipe Albuquerque, whose best was a 1:26.294.
“Seventh on the grid isn’t exactly what I was aiming for in qualifying. My lap times in Q1 and Q2 were very good, but unfortunately, I wasn’t able to carry the level of speed through to the third part of the session. My Mercedes AMG C-Coupé has been really fast here for most of this weekend, so I’m feeling optimistic about the race. I hope that I can extract full performance out of the car tomorrow and get a decent result,” Green said.
Audi driver Albuquerque was not happy as he stated: "That was a very difficult qualifying session. The car was anything but easy to drive. Every single qualifying section had to be looked at by itself. In the end I was eighth. I was very happy to have made it into Q3. I found it difficult to develop a feel for the car. The track kept getting hotter, my car had heavier understeer and I was hardly able to make good use of the new tires. That’s a real shame!"
Two Germans fill in the fifth row after putting down hot laps to contest the third segment of the top ten drivers.
Dirk Werner laid down his best lap of 1:26.309 for the BMW Team Schnitzer. “I can be very happy with my race weekend in Spielberg so far. We made good progress in the free practices sessions, and ninth in qualifying is a very promising result. Our car was actually capable of more than that, so I am also a little bit disappointed. Despite that, I now hope to score my first points in the race,” he said.
Driving his Mercedes AMG, Ralf Schumacher ticked off a lap of 1:26.340 for the 10th spot on round four for the 2012 season. He said, “Tenth place on the grid is not brilliant, it could've been a whole lot better, but at least I’m in the top ten so not too bad for Sunday’s race. This weekend has not gone quite the way I had wanted but we will have had chance to carefully study the data by tomorrow, and we intend extracting the maximum out of the car in the race.”
The first three races have been tight battles and it is expected that tomorrow’s race will be also be action-packed during the 47 laps on the Red Bull Ring. Paffett won at Hockenheimring and Brands Hatch, and Spengler handed BMW their first win in their return to the series at the Lausitzring.