Audi driver Martin Tomczyk wins boat race
"1st Audi Dutzendteich Challenge" a resounding success
Abt construction victorious
Support from extreme canoeist Schorschi Schauf
The "1st Audi Dutzendteich Challenge", in which the Audi DTM stars raced each other on a lake in the dunes of Zandvoort with so-called "paper boats" on Friday ended with a surprise: fears that the ten boats hand-crafted from cardboard by the Audi DTM teams might sink did not materialise in a single case.
Still, the thrilled spectators attending what was arguably the craziest DTM race of the year had a grand time: the Audi drivers contested the funny boat race with the same fighting spirit they usually display at the wheel of their Audi A4 DTM cars. Even tactical manoeuvres, collisions and tricks of all sorts were reminiscent of circuit racing.
Winner of the "sea battle's" debut round was Martin Tomczyk, who - having started from the last position of the "grid" in his boat "Abt Allgäu IV" - won the first of the two preliminary heats and prevailed over Pierre Kaffer's "Öli 5W30" in a nail-biting duel of the final race. The "small finale" for third place was won by Mattias Ekström in "Abt Allgäu II" against Christian Abt's "Bunny 1".
The boats of Audi Sport Team Phoenix proved to be the great surprise of the race. Although a jury including Audi Head of Motorsport Dr Wolfgang Ullrich had selected them as the most creative constructions, resulting in the top two starting positions for the race, their shape had raised some doubts about their sea-worthiness. With a great fighting spirit, Pierre Kaffer and Christian Abt compensated for the construction's handicaps, though, outrunning two of the favoured kayaks of Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline.
Christian Abt in his preliminary heat, however, benefited from the fact that Heinz-Harald Frentzen thought he had already finished - his team had failed to inform him that he had to touch shore in order to be classified.
An even worse mishap was suffered by Le Mans record winner Tom Kristensen: the Dane who had not had a chance to try out his kayak before the race spun during the start and capsized shortly afterwards while trying to make up ground. "The word 'understeer" has taken on a completely new meaning," laughed Kristensen, who received a visit on the lake by a "lifesaving dog"...
Whereas Mattias Ekström was another driver who first had to get used to the unusual handling properties of his paper boat, Martin Tomczyk was able to leverage the technical superiority of the Abt kayak designed with support from extreme canoeist Schorschi Schauf straight from the start, as well as bringing to bear his test advantage: the youngster had spent several hours of testing on the river Iller in Bavaria and, as a result, had acquired the respective confidence for sweeping through the waters of the "Audi S Bocht". The victorious paper kayak is now supposed to be auctioned for a charitable purpose.
Heated discussions were sparked by the performance of Audi Sport Team Rosberg: The fact that Frank Stippler and Timo Scheider were about to start the first preliminary heat as a "pair" in their extra-large trimaran was prevented by race director Dr Wolfgang Ullrich at the last minute. For the second, preliminary trial they even got a hostess to join them aboard, putting to sea as a trio. Yet the joy of finishing as the runner-up this way did not last long as the crew was disqualified immediately. After the race, boat designer Glenn Huber was "sent to the bottom of the lake" fully dressed by Timo Scheider.
The well deserved reward for the sacrifice of many hours of free time went to the Audi mechanics: The member's Martin Tomczyk's crew won a trip to the DTM race at Barcelona. Pierre Kaffer's team will be witnessing a home match of FC Bayern München in the Audi VIP lounge. Mattias Ekström's team won rides in the Audi A4 DTM racing taxi.
Originally the "1st Audi Dutzendteich Challenge" was scheduled to take place as part of the Norisring race at Nuremberg. Due to the presence of toxic blue algae in the "Dutzendteich" lake the boat race had to be postponed to the Zandvoort round - where it proved to be a resounding success.