Audi defends DTM lead

Ingolstadt/Mugello -- At the DTM's Italian round, Audi defended its overall lead. Although scoring no points at Mugello after a jump start, Audi driver Timo Scheider continues heading the leaderboard. Tom Kristensen clinched third place for Audi in an action-packed race. A total of five A4 DTM cars finished in the top eight, and thus in the points.

The chance for a possible third consecutive victory was forfeited by the drivers of Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline straight from the beginning. The A4 of the quickest in qualifying, Timo Scheider, briefly started moving forwards when the starting lights were still red. The resulting drive-through penalty caused the leader of the DTM standings to drop to 17th place. With a remarkable recovery and captivating overtaking manoeuvres the winner of Oscherlsleben fought his way forwards again to tenth place.

Title defender Mattias Ekstrom did not make a perfect start either: the Swede dropped from fourth to tenth place, had to pit earlier than planned because he got stuck in traffic and, in the end, was happy to still have scored points after finishing sixth.

His team-mate Martin Tomczyk was entangled in a collision in the commotion in the first turn, causing the front bonnet of his A4 to come off. Only after one lap the German had to come in for an unscheduled pit stop and therefore lost ground without any chance of recovery.

The only flawless race of a driver of a new Audi A4 DTM was that of Tom Kristensen, who finished in third place. In the first third of the race the Dane put pressure on the second-placed Paul di Resta in the Mercedes. The duel was decided immediately after the first pit stop to the disadvantage of the Audi driver when Kristensen was slowed for almost a whole lap by a 2007-spec Mercedes, which had nothing to do with the outcome of the race. As a result, the Le Mans record winner lost Di Resta's trail and the chance to fight for second place. Subsequently he concentrated on securing his third position against the field running behind him.

Oliver Jarvis, who in the A4 DTM of Audi Sport Team Phoenix in fifth place was the best driver of a car from last year, clinched the first points in his young DTM career. With Mattias Ekstrom, Markus Winkelhock and Alexandre Premat in positions six to eight, a total of five Audi drivers finished in the points.

Quotes after the race

Dr Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport): "For some reason, racing luck just doesn't seem to be on our side at Mugello. Like last year, after a very good showing in qualifying, we finished with a less favourable result in the race. At least we managed to get Tom (Kristensen) on the podium and many cars into the points. Considering our performance, which we showed in qualifying despite carrying 20 kilograms more weight compared to Mercedes, we'd been hoping for a better result, though. But when you give away your chances at the start, it's very difficult on this circuit to move to the front. Particularly, if you've got to deal with additional weight. That's hard on the tyres as well. At the EuroSpeedway we'll attack again with a little less weight."

Tom Kristensen (Audi A4 DTM #9): "The start was okay. In the first turn Jamie (Green) was in front already, but there was a nice fight with Paul di Resta and Timo Scheider. We went into the next corners side by side, and I was in third position. Up to the first pit stop, I was quicker than Paul. My pit stop was good, but so was Paul's. After leaving the pit lane I kept trailing him closely. Then, unfortunately, we caught a white Mercedes, which let di Resta pass but slowed me for a whole lap. I lost a little more than four seconds in the process. On this circuit that means the race is over. That was a shame because I'd have liked to keep fighting with Paul for second place. I think the spectators would have enjoyed that too. My car was superb. But 20 kilograms of additional weight do make a difference over a whole racing distance."

Oliver Jarvis (Best Buddies Audi A4 DTM #15): "My start was good, I overtook two cars and went through turn one on the outside line. This proved yet again how important it is to make a good start. In the first third of the race Alex (Premat) put on a lot of pressure but I wouldn't let him pass. During the pit stops the team did a fantastic job. Unfortunately, I stalled the engine at the first stop, but this didn't cost us a position. In the final third of the race Mattias Ekstrom was running behind me and I had to give everything up to the finish. It was a tough race in which I scored my first points, coming fifth. The team definitely deserved this -- I'm happy for everyone."

Mattias Ekstrom (Red Bull Audi A4 DTM #1): "I had a very bad start and lost a lot of places. In the first turn I made up some ground again. Then I got entangled in fights throughout the race and at least scored a few points in sixth place."

Markus Winkelhock (Playboy Audi A4 DTM #19): "My start was less than perfect. I did overtake a Mercedes, but Premat and Jarvis had fantastic starts on the side of the track with better grip. This cost me some places. The car's balance in the race wasn't bad. After the last pit stop I came back out after Mattias Ekstrom, was able to easily keep the pace and, maybe, was even a little quicker. That's a shame because it means my poor start decided the outcome of my race. Also, there were some problems during the pit stop. I can live with seventh place, because we scored two points."

Alexandre Premat (Audi Bank/Shell Helix Audi A4 DTM #14): "That was a very tough race. From the start, I gave everything. In our team, Oliver (Jarvis) used the first opportunity for his first pit stop. That was perfect for him. Unfortunately, I lost some time because Winkelhock and Ekstrom passed me at the pits. Otherwise fifth or sixth place would have been possible easily, because the car was very pleasant to drive on the first and second set of tyres. But it was good for the team to have scored points."

Timo Scheider (GW:plus/Top Service Audi A4 DTM #10): "The race itself was great but my start was the reason for the flop. I probably didn't warm up my brakes enough. Although the parking brake was closed there was a jolt. So the pressure wasn't high enough. When preloading it the car moved. I'm really sorry about that. That was my mistake. My thanks go to the boys -- the car was sensational. The positive part about it is that we're still leading the standings. It was clear that days like this would come. We're not going to stick our heads in the sand. Another positive thing is that our performance was right. We showed that Mugello has good opportunities for overtaking."

Christijan Albers (Audi A4 DTM #21): "The start wasn't so good. In turns one and three I was pushed towards the outside in traffic. Then I fought, but Mathias Lauda was in front of us. Mike Rockenfeller and Ralf Schumacher wanted to pass but it didn't work. This cost us a lot of time. I was able to pass only after the second stop. After that, I was able to get away from my immediate rivals and my race wasn't bad. I'm satisfied with the good times I set."

Mike Rockenfeller (S line Audi A4 DTM #18): "I had a good start and was on the outside next to Markus (Winkelhock). But in the first corner someone ran into my car and I almost spun. My car was very heavily damaged. Actually, I could have just quit. But I did finish the race and came fourteenth."

Martin Tomczyk (Red Bull Audi A4 DTM #2): "I had a perfect start and made up a lot of places. In the first turn I got into a sandwich between Ekstrom and Rockenfeller. As a result, my front bonnet came loose and that was the end of my race. I could have scored points. But these things happen if you start from the rear of the grid. Of course it's a shame that something like this happens when you're only surrounded by Audi colleagues."

Katherine Legge (Audi A4 DTM #20): "We didn't have a particularly good race. We fought hard, but for some reason we keep losing too much time. That was the case in qualifying as well as throughout race Sunday. We're struggling with massive oversteer. We need to take our time and carefully analyse the situation. We're still simply lacking experience."

Hans-Jurgen Abt (Team Director Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline): "We cannot be satisfied. But things like this can happen in a race. We need to chalk this off to experience and move on with our work. Congratulations to Tom Kristensen on a flawless race. The others were entangled in collisions or had a bad start. We need to work on this to make sure it won't repeat itself. With such a good starting base, a lot would have been possible. We'll go to the next race and will definitely strike back."

Ernst Moser (Team Director Audi Sport Team Phoenix): "A superb result for the team! After qualifying, we were still a little disappointed, but in the race we achieved good performances with both drivers. Places five and eight are presentable. We can be proud of them. In the third race we finally wanted to score some points. Now we're relaxed and satisfied. At the EuroSpeedway we want to collect some more points."

Arno Zensen (Team Director Audi Sport Team Rosberg): "Too bad for 'Rocky', because his race was over as early as in turn one. Today, the other cars from last year showed what would have been possible. With Markus (Winkelhock), I'm happy about the points. The result could have even been a bit better, because he made a small mistake while pitting. But we made a mistake as well -- the second pit stop was less than perfect. Otherwise we might have moved him past Ekstrom and Jarvis. Sorry about that, Markus -- next time, you'll just stop and we'll do a better job while you stop."

-credit: audi