By Berthold Bouman, DTM Correspondent
- Martin Tomczyk invincible at Lausitz
- Bruno Spengler fastest Mercedes driver
- Audi stronger than Mercedes this weekend
Audi had to wait six years to finally win the race at the EuroSpeedway Lausitz, today it was Martin Tomczyk (Audi Sport Team Phoenix) who brought the trophy back to the Ingolstadt-based Audi team. Tomczyk was 15 seconds ahead of the first Mercedes piloted by Bruno Spengler (Mercedes-Benz Bank AMG), who could not turn his pole position into a victory.
Second place was also for Audi, as Timo Scheider (Audi Sport Team Abt), who had been fastest during the morning warm-up session, performed a miracle and landed second place with an alternative pit stop strategy after starting from eighth place on the grid.
Tomczyk had a straight-forward race, after the start emerged from the first corner in third position, and overtook Jamie Green (AMG Mercedes) two laps later. After a great first pit stop he took over Spengler’s leading position, and then started to pull away from the Canadian. Everything worked out well for Tomczyk today, the start, the pit stops and tyres, while the German himself did not make one single mistake. He scored his second successive win of the season and his sixth DTM career win.
“ My A4 was fantastic again today, incredibly quick and extremely easy to drive,” a happy Tomczyk reported after the race. “I love my car; it is huge fun to drive it - and the team again did a perfect job today. It’s a great feeling to be leading the DTM with a year-old car.”
Although Spengler led the race during the first 15 laps, he lost his first position after a less than an optimal first pit stop. After Tomczyk had made his prefect first pit stop, he came out of the pit lane and joined the race ahead of the Mercedes driver, and Spengler was simply not able to follow the fast yellow Audi of Tomczyk. The same scenario unfolded during the second round of pit stops, Spengler pitted on lap 32 and the question was now whether he could pass Tomczyk during his stop. But it wasn’t to be and Spengler rejoined the race behind Tomczyk and later even lost his second position to Scheider.
Spengler was not really disappointed with the result today, “You can’t really be disappointed if you get onto the podium in such a hotly contested racing series as DTM -- especially when it’s such a close race as we’ve had here at the Lausitzring.” He knew Tomczyk had simply been too fast for him today, “Tomczyk put in a magnificent performance today to take a well deserved victory. At the same time, though, we’ve banked six valuable championship points.”
Scheider drove an impressive race, his team decided to put him on an alternative strategy and he stayed out as long as possible before he finally pitted for the first time on lap 29. By that time the other drivers were already pitting for the second time, Scheider then joined the race in third position behind Spengler. Only eight laps later Scheider pitted again, and after a flawless pit stop took over second position from Spengler, who’s Mercedes was again no match for the Audis today. Scheider recorded his best result of the season thanks to his team’s great strategy.
”A great day! Although I’d have wished to advance as much as possible from position nine finishing in second place in view of the highly competitive field in the DTM is anything but normal, Scheider said. “The performance of the car and the tires was fantastic. In addition, the strategy was perfect and my team did two superb pit stops. It’s good to experience the feeling of standing on the podium again.”
The race was over before it even had started for Susie Stoddart (TV Spielfilm AMG Mercedes), she wanted to start from the pit lane as her mechanics had discovered brake fluid had leaked from her car. But the team at the last moment decided not to start for safety reasons, as they still hadn’t found the cause of the leak.
An obviously disappointed Stoddart, “Today was just bad luck. Unfortunately, I started losing brake fluid. My mechanics did everything they could, but they weren’t finished in time for the start. That's part of racing, so now I’ll just have to focus on the next race at the Norisring.”
The race at Lausitz was not really the most exciting race of the season, right from the start most drivers settled for the position they were in, and the most crucial overtaking maneuvers of Tomczyk and Scheider took place in the pit lane. Nevertheless there were some good fights for position further down the field.
Gary Paffett (Tomas Sabo AMG Mercedes) diced for third position with Green early in the race, and on lap 26 he finally overtook Green. Briton Green then decided to stay out as long as possible, but found out it was not the right strategy when he on lap 35 pitted for the second time and rejoined the race in seventh position. Green then started to attack Miguel Molina (Audi Sport Team Abt Junior) for sixth position, the Spaniard hit the kerbs hard at Turn 1 and damaged his car. He had to give up his race and Green therefore crossed the finish line in sixth place.
Green certainly was not happy with his sixth place, “After my second place in qualifying, I'm not pleased with sixth place. I lacked the necessary pace in the race. I also had some bad luck as a result of pit stops, dropping a couple of positions.”
Oliver Jarvis (Audi Sport Team Abt) meanwhile was battling for fourth position with Mercedes driver Paffett, but Paffett was just quick enough to keep his compatriot behind him, and finished in a well-deserved fourth position, and Jarvis finished behind him in fifth position.
Paffett about his race, “I'm relatively happy with my result. Thanks to making a good start, I moved up one position, moving into fourth place. After a great pit stop, I was even able to pass Jamie. Throughout the race, my speed was a match for Bruno’s, who finished on the podium.”
Jarvis was not happy with his race, “I’m pretty disappointed. In the warm-up this morning we showed that we had a really good pace for the race. But the strategy wasn’t optimal. Before the stops we were in front of Timo [Scheider] but then we must have made a mistake. Otherwise I might have finished on the podium.”
Tom Kristensen (Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline), who replaced Mike Rockenfeller, did what was expected from him and landed seventh position, albeit almost four seconds behind Green. The Dane had a pretty uneventful race, made his two mandatory stops as planned, but after a slow second pit stop returned to the circuit in ninth place. He later benefited of Molina’s woes and moved up another position.
Kristensen summed up his day, “Seventh place in qualifying, seventh place in the race with a lot of consideration for all team colleagues, two points and ‘Rocky’s’ Audi doesn’t have a single scratch on it - that’s a nice result.”
The fastest rookies at Lausitz were Filipe Albuquerque (Audi Sport Team Rosberg) and Christian Vietoris (Junge Sterne AMG Mercedes), they crossed the finish line in eighth and ninth position respectively.
Vietoris had collided with another rookie, Eduardo Mortara (Audi Sport Team Rosberg) early on in the race and damaged his car. Mortara finally had to give up on lap 35 after he had struggled for some 25 laps with his Audi. Vietoris was able to continue without damage and during the last ten laps of the race he diced with Albuquerque for eighth place, but although he came close, could not overtake the Audi of the Portuguese.
The race became another drama for Mattias Ekstrom (Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline) who after nine laps was in sixth position, but then reported he suffered from vibrations and one car after another passed the Swede.
When he made his first stop he was already far behind, and to make things worse, the refueling can got stuck on his car and he left his pit area with the can still attached to his car. He braked hard and the can came loose and bounced through the pit lane, but the damage was already done, he rejoined the race in 13th position. On lap 26 he made his second stop and fell further back to 16th position, and crossed the finish line in 11th position.
Ekstrom was obviously disappointed, “This was not what we wanted. Especially in the first stint I was struggling with way too much oversteer - while braking and in the turns. After the first and second pit stop things were a little bit better but not perfect either. We’ve learned a lot today - but you don’t get points for that.”
Also a race to forget for Ralf Schumacher (Salzgitter AMG Mercedes), he started from a disappointing 17th position, did what he could, but got stuck at the back of the field in the early stages of the race. “I’m not happy with twelfth, but at least the race itself went better than the rest of the weekend. I lost a little time on the first stint perhaps, but not much more was possible today,” he reported after the race.
As for the ongoing fight between Audi and Mercedes, the day ended as it had started with Audi in first and second place, and Mercedes in third and fourth place. Time to find out what the Audi and Mercedes bosses had to say.
Norbert Haug, Vice-President Mercedes-Benz Motorsport, “Unfortunately, all good things come to an end. After five successive victories and nine P1 finishes in eleven races at the Lausitzring, we didn’t have the speed to win today.” And added, “Our race setup certainly wasn’t optimum today. We intend to correct that in time for the Norisring in two weeks.”
Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, “We’ve been chasing victory here at the Lausitzring for a very long time. This weekend we could see from the outset that it would be possible. Martin [Tomczyk] and Timo [Scheider] did a perfect job of achieving our aim in the race.”
Tomczyk is now leading the DTM championship with 30 points, one point more than Spengler who is now second with 29 points. Scheider has moved up to third place with 19 points, and Rockenfeller and Schumacher share fourth position with 14 points each. Next DTM race is in two weeks on the Norisring.