Audi maintains DTM lead Ingolstadt/Nuremberg -- In front of 140,000 spectators (throughout the weekend) Audi maintained its lead in the DTM standings in Nuremberg. Finishing the race in third place, Timo Scheider defended his overall lead and...
Audi maintains DTM lead
Ingolstadt/Nuremberg -- In front of 140,000 spectators (throughout the weekend) Audi maintained its lead in the DTM standings in Nuremberg. Finishing the race in third place, Timo Scheider defended his overall lead and gave Audi its first Norisring podium since 2005. With Mattias Ekstrom in fourth, and Tom Kristensen in seventh place, two other Audi drivers scored points.
Scheider and Ekstrom were among the protagonists in a nail-biting DTM race at the Norisring, in which the first four cars were separated by merely 2.5 seconds when they crossed the finish line. The preliminary decision was made as early as in the qualifying and at the start: Ekstrom had to start the race from the unfavourable eighth position on the grid, while Scheider started with slightly insufficient revs when the red lights went off and dropped to seventh place on lap one.
The recovery made by both Audi drivers showed that the new Audi A4 DTM is also capable of winning on circuits that primarily demand top speed: Ekstrom and Scheider fought and made up ground to positions three and four and, in the final phase, caught up with the two leading Mercedes cars. The two Mercedes drivers, however, made no mistakes so that Ekstrom and Scheider had no overtaking opportunities. Instead, there was a team-internal duel in which Timo Scheider in the last corner pushed past Mattias Ekstrom. After five of eleven races, Timo Scheider continues heading the leaderboard with a one-point advantage over Norising winner Jamie Green.
In the early phases of the race, all four new Audi A4 DTM cars were circling the Norisring in a "formation flight". Martin Tomczyk, who had made a good start, lost positions, however, because his accelerator pedal repeatedly got stuck. Then, Tom Kristensen was on the heels of the leading Mercedes trio, before his A4 lost important aerodynamics components in tussles and the Le Mans record winner, due to the resulting overheating of his brakes and a cramped leg, was relegated to seventh place.
Last year's A4 cars, which were the heaviest vehicles in the entire field in Nuremberg, had no chance for points. After a disappointing qualifying, Markus Winkelhock drove a good race, making up ground from position 17 on the grid to eleventh place. Oliver Jarvis, Mike Rockenfeller -- who was moved to the rear of the grid -- and Alexandre Premat -- who was struggling with clutch problems -- occupied places twelve, 13 and 14.
Katherine Legge finished her Norisring debut in the 2006-spec Audi A4 DTM in 15th place. Her team-mate Christijan Albers, after a strong starting phase, retired due to a steering problem.
The next DTM race is on the schedule only two weeks from now at Zandvoort (the Netherlands). Audi has not been beaten at this venue for the past two years and celebrated a one-two-three-four victory there last year.
Quotes after the race
Dr Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport): "We continue leading the championship and clinched a podium result at the Norisring. That -- as well as the fact that the new A4 DTM was really very fast in the race and our teams did great work in the pits -- is definitely positive. It's not hard to imagine, though, what would have been possible if we hadn't lost so much time at the start. But to win, everything's got to fit together. We saw fair fights within the Audi teams today as well as between the two brands. That was touring car racing at its best, with nail-biting suspense from start to finish, and simply good advertising for the DTM."
Timo Scheider (GW:plus/Top Service Audi A4 DTM #10): "That was really a sensational race today, an extreme thriller. I'm just sorry that I messed up the start the way I did. As a result, I had to attack extremely hard during the rest of the race. Thanks to our race strategy, good stops and the fast car I was able to make a quick recovery. Together with 'Eki', I put pressure on the two leading Mercedes of Green and Spengler. 'Eki' really gave everything. I think that in the end his brakes weren't the best anymore. On the final four or five laps one of his wheels kept locking. On the last lap I took advantage of that. My thanks to 'Eki' for such a fair drive."
Mattias Ekstrom (Red Bull Audi A4 DTM #1): "My A4 was great today, so I was able to fight at the front of the field again. Recovering from eighth on the grid to third in the race was a tremendous thing. When we were fighting for the podium place on the final laps, I unfortunately lost my brakes and Timo (Scheider) was able to pass me. Too bad, because I'd have liked to take a trophy home with me. At Zandvoort, we'll launch an all-out attack again."
Tom Kristensen (Audi A4 DTM #9): "This has been one of the races after which you really appreciate a scoop of icecream! The car was excellent, and so was the start. In the beginning, I was quicker than Mercedes in certain sectors but I wasn't able to put pressure on the cars in front of me there. I was caught in a sandwich with Mattias (Ekstrom) behind me and wanted to save my brakes. The brakes overheated somewhat, and so did I, because I developed a cramp. I probably didn't drink enough. These factors worked against me in the race. So my lap times deteriorated and I lost some ground. But the result is good for the team. We added a bit to our tally again."
Markus Winkelhock (Playboy Audi A4 DTM #19): "The start was fair to middling -- I gained nothing and lost nothing. In the first corner I stayed clear of trouble. I didn't want to take any risk. The car felt pretty good. After ten, 15 laps the brakes started to become soft. I was hoping they'd last until the end of the race, and they did."
Oliver Jarvis (Best Buddies Audi A4 DTM #15): "My start was good and the first two laps were really varied while fighting with Alex (Premat) and the others. Those were some nice fights and I advanced a few places. After the pit stops, I was in a good position but Maro Engel came up behind me in turn four on the inside line. He braked too late and hit me in the rear. I lost a few places. At the end, it was a really tough battle because the braking distances got longer. A disappointing race end."
Mike Rockenfeller (S line Audi A4 DTM #18): "My start was poor and I wasn't able to improve either up to the first turn. In the beginning, I was driving behind Markus (Winkelhock). Things were going well for me, while he was having brake problems. A few laps later, I started having problems as well because I was following in his slipstream the whole time. All that counted for me then anymore was to finish the race, because points were no longer possible. Now our car will become lighter. After a weekend to chalk off to experience, things should be clearly better again for us at Zandvoort."
Alexandre Premat (Audi Bank/Shell Helix Audi A4 DTM #14): "Unfortunately, at both pit stops the clutch slowed me. On the track, I showed that I'm one of the quickest drivers of a 2007-spec car. That's why I'm a bit disappointed about the result. I started from tenth place and had hoped to be scoring one or two points."
Katherine Legge (Audi A4 DTM #20): "The race didn't go the way we'd been hoping it would. At least, we finished and gained valuable experiences. The circuit is very difficult, and I started having problems with the gearbox and brakes. I was no longer able to shift from first into second gear and therefore often used second. I often made room for others and that caused me to lose a lot of time as well. I learned a lot this weekend and have a positive feeling about Zandvoort."
Christijan Albers (Audi A4 DTM #21): "I had a good start. The only problem was that I wasn't able to overtake any of the Mercedes cars in front of me. After 18, 19 laps, the power steering system lost power and started locking. It was difficult to turn in. The more hydraulic fluid was lost, the worse it got. I had to stop my race."
Martin Tomczyk (Red Bull Audi A4 DTM #2): "The start was pretty good because I gained a position. From the first lap forward, I was having problems with the accelerator pedal sticking a little. It got worse and worse. That's why I made several braking mistakes. Towards the end, while heading for the Scholler-S, the pedal got stuck completely."
Hans-Jurgen Abt (Team Director Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline): "An absolutely thrilling race. Congratulations to the team. We really made no mistakes. Our performance was right, but the grid positions were the preliminary decision for the race. The overall result is such that Timo Scheider continues leading the championship. And we've got a big weight advantage for the next race. We're taking a good result with us form the Norisring, because we've got to ensure that in the end we finish the championship in front."
Ernst Moser (Team Director Audi Sport Team Phoenix): "Up to the first pit stop, everything was going according to plan. We were able to keep the old Mercedes cars -- except for Gary Paffett -- behind us. Oliver (Jarvis) lost several positions in an action that wasn't shown on TV. During Alex's (Premat) first stop there was a clutch problem and the drive axle didn't stop, which cost us a lot of time. That was the end of our race. We want to make up for that at Zandvoort with less weight and lots of motivation."
Arno Zensen (Team Director Audi Sport Team Rosberg): "First, our apologies to Mike (Rockenfeller) for our mistake with the tyres in the warm-up, which were the reason why we had to start from the last row. Both drivers drove good races. With places eleven and 13 we made the best of the situation. A better result wasn't possible, although we'd expected more."