Home race for Audi driver Miguel Molina
Ingolstadt, May 15, 2010 - A debut for the DTM: after four races at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya, the almost traditional Spanish round of the most popular international touring car series from May 21 to 23 will be held at Valencia for the first time. With the young, just 21-year-old Spaniard Miguel Molina, Audi has a local hero in its line-up.
During the official pre-season tests at Valencia the young Spaniard shone by posting the second-best time and immediately clinched a point in his DTM debut at Hockenheim at the end of April. Just the second DTM round in his career will be a home race to which "Magic" Molina, as his team has nicknamed him, is looking forward with particularly eager anticipation.
"A home round is always something special for a racer," says the Catalonian, who calls Lloret de Mar, a town about 400 kilometers north of Valencia, home. "I'm hoping to be able to help make the DTM similarly popular in Spain as it is in Germany. I was amazed to see the level of enthusiasm for the DTM there. It was a completely new feeling for me to be driving in front of such a big crowd at Hockenheim and to write such a large number of autographs."
Ever since Molina has been signed by Audi Sport, interest in the DTM has notably increased in Spain. For the first time, the TV channel Onda6 is airing live broadcasts of all DTM races this year. "In every interview with Spanish media I tell people: 'join us at Valencia for the race! You'll get to see a great show,'" says the DTM rookie.
With a population of 805,000, Valencia is Spain's third-biggest city. The Mediterranean metropolis became world famous as the venue of the America's Cup, the world's most popular sailing regatta. Since 2008, Formula 1 has been racing on a city street circuit in Valencia's harbor area. The DTM will hold its round at a 4,500-kilometer permanent race track about 20 kilometers from Valencia that was named after the Spanish motorcycle racer Ricardo Tormo who died of leukemia in 1998.
100th DTM race for Timo Scheider
Valencia is not only a very special event for Miguel Molina. The reigning DTM Champion Timo Scheider will contest the 100th DTM race of his career in Spain. This makes the Audi "factory" driver the only active DTM racer in the "100 club" of the most popular international touring car racing series. His two team colleagues Mattias Ekstrom (94 races to date) and Martin Tomczyk (93) will reach the 100-mark in the course of the season as well.
"Obviously, this is a special number," says Scheider, who is the only driver in the field to have raced in the DTM when the series was re-launched in 2000. In 2006 the German who lives in Austria took a break and since 2007 he has been driving for Audi - with consummate passion. "It was always my dream to compete for Audi," says Scheider, whose private garage recently became home to a white Audi R8 Spyder. "This is another dream I've been able to fulfill ..."
After the season opener at Hockenheim, where Scheider started from position nine and finished seventh, did not go according to plan by any stretch of the imagination he can hardly wait to strike back at Valencia - provided the tires will let him.
The tire failures at Hockenheim continue to occupy Audi Sport and the DTM scene. "We've put a lot of effort into analyzing and reproducing the tire problems we had in the race at Hockenheim," explains Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. Among other things, the track tests with Mattias Ekstrom and Timo Scheider at Almeria (Spain) and tire rig tests at the universities in Hamburg and Aachen were conducted for this purpose. "We've gained a lot more knowledge about the new tire generation, but this hasn't solved the problem yet, which is pretty complex. I would like to stress again that we clearly complied with the requirements specified by the tire manufacturer at Hockenheim. The problem is by no means just on our side of the house. But we'll do everything within our means to ensure that the tire failures we had at Hockenheim won't occur again at Valencia."
Other topics of the weekend
- How important is qualifying at Valencia?
- Does the 4,005-kilometer circuit offer overtaking opportunities?
- How will the new Dunlop tires work in the summer temperatures to be expected?
- Will the 2008-spec vehicles again be on an equal footing with the 2009-spec models?
- How many spectators will turn out for the DTM debut at Valencia?
Quotes by the officials
Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport): "We've had an official test at Valencia, so we've got some data. I'm assuming, though, that we'll have different weather conditions in May. We've tried to get a handle on the tire problems. That was a lot of work. Our goal is to recover the points we lost at the season opener. I'm eager to see the response to the DTM at its first round at Valencia. After all, with Miguel Molina contesting the series, the DTM field includes a Spanish racer for the first time. I'm hoping that a very large turnout of local fans will keep their fingers crossed for him."
Hans-Jurgen Abt (Team Director Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline): "Our goal is to strike back at Valencia. We've tried to learn from the problems we had at Hockenheim. The fact that we've tested at Valencia before will probably be helpful. With this year's tire generation, it seems to be particularly difficult to combine performance and durability. The round at Valencia, no doubt, will be exciting."
Ernst Moser (Team Director Audi Sport Team Phoenix): "That we were able to test at Valencia for four days suits us well. We learned a lot and completed a few qualification and race simulations. "We're well sorted. Alex (Premat) and 'Rocky' were both very fast during the test. I think that we'll be able to run at the very front of the field again."
Arno Zensen (Team Director Audi Sport Team Rosberg): "Valencia is a new race track on the DTM calendar, which I didn't know before. We had the chance to get to know it during the test and I must say that it's a fantastic facility. Depending on where you sit as a spectator, you may have a full view of the circuit. We're already looking forward to a new challenge."
Facts and quotes by the Audi drivers
Mattias Ekstrom (31/S), Red Bull Audi A4 DTM #5 (Audi Sport Team Abt
- Has never been on the podium in Spain
- Will celebrate his mother's 60th birthday at Valencia
"I don't think that anyone really knows what we'll be in for at Valencia because the circuit is new territory for all of us. It's true that we tested there and I had a pretty good feeling then. But tests are tests and races are races."
Oliver Jarvis (26/GB), Tabac Original Audi A4 DTM #2 (Audi Sport Team
- Is hoping to clinch his first points after the disappointment at Hockenheim
- Contested his first 24-hour race at the Nurburgring before the weekend at Valencia
"My main goal at Valencia is to close the book on Hockenheim - by clinching a good result. Surely there are race tracks I like better. But Valencia is nice nevertheless. I'm hoping for a good qualifying and a good race."
Katherine Legge (29/GB), Glamour Audi A4 DTM #15 (Audi Sport Team
- Is still lacking a DTM race finish in Spain
- Recently assumed role as women's representative on FIA commission
"I'm looking forward to Valencia because it's a new race on the calendar and I'm really excited about it. I'm also looking forward to the Spanish fans. We've got some experience values regarding the set-up and the new tires from the tests there."
Miguel Molina (21/E), Audi Bank A4 DTM #18 (Audi Sport Rookie Team Abt)
- Clinched his first point right away at Hockenheim
- Was fastest Audi driver in the pre-season tests at Valencia
"We need to continue doing what we did at Hockenheim. This should be possible, too, because I know the track at Valencia really well. A home round is always something special for a racer. I'm looking forward to it and am hoping for a lot of support from the Spanish fans."
Alexandre Premat (28/F), TV Movie Audi A4 DTM #9 (Audi Sport Team
- Lost possible points at Hockenheim due to tire failure
- Visited his sports car colleagues during the 1000-km race at Spa
"In the tests at Valencia I had one of the fastest cars. Points are my minimum goal, but maybe a podium or even victory will be possible. We were able to keep the pace of the other cars very well at Hockenheim. I think anything's possible."
Mike Rockenfeller (26/D), S line Audi A4 DTM #10 (Audi Sport Team
- Competes in three current Audi race cars - R15 TDI (Spa), R8 LMS (Nurburgring), A4 DTM (Valencia) - on three consecutive weekends
- Will arrive at Valencia as Audi driver with the highest point score
"With a fifth-place finish, Hockenheim went pretty well for me. I immediately gelled with my new team. The tests at Valencia went well too. That's why I'm very much looking forward to my second DTM race with Team Phoenix."
Timo Scheider (31/D), GW:plus/Top Service Audi A4 DTM #1 (Audi Sport Team
- Will contest his 100th DTM race at Valencia
- Won at Barcelona last year
"A new track, a new challenge. We had a decent test at Valencia and are hoping to be able to put the results on the track in the race. I can hardly wait for the season to continue - particularly since the Hockenheim race didn't go so well for me."
Martin Tomczyk (28/D), Red Bull Cola Audi A4 DTM #6 (Audi Sport Team Abt
- Celebrated his first DTM victory at Barcelona in 2006
- Was on pole twice at Barcelona
"We gathered initial information during the test at Valencia. It'll be a challenge because the track is new to the DTM. It's hard to say how we'll be doing there. But after Hockenheim we're hoping for a good performance."
Markus Winkelhock (29/D), Playboy/GW:plus Audi A4 DTM #14 (Audi Sport
- Had the special honor of presenting the key to a brand new Audi A1 to the "playmate of the year," Michaela Grauke
"I enjoy the track at Valencia. I'm eager to see whether we'll have a nice turnout of spectators there and am hoping that things will be going better for me there than they did at Hockenheim - in any event, I'm highly motivated."