Audi is set on regaining its usual strength Ingolstadt, August 13, 2010 - After a disappointing race result at the Nurburgring Audi is aiming to turn the trend around at Zandvoort from August 20 to 22: in the second half of the season that will...
Audi is set on regaining its usual strength
Ingolstadt, August 13, 2010 - After a disappointing race result at the Nurburgring Audi is aiming to turn the trend around at Zandvoort from August 20 to 22: in the second half of the season that will start on the Dutch North Sea coast the title defenders are set on regaining their usual strength.
A 19-point gap separates Mattias Ekstrom as the best Audi driver in the DTM standings from front runner Bruno Spengler. But Audi is far from considering the fight for the fourth consecutive DTM title a losing battle on the season's midpoint in the Netherlands, particularly since Ekstrom is just three points short of second place in the standings. "For the six victories in the remaining races as many as 60 points are yet to be awarded," emphasizes Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. "We'll do everything within our means to be capable of winning again at Zandvoort and to make up ground in the championship."
After the round at the Nurburgring the analysis of how to optimally use the tires was one of the most important tasks to tackle. At the most recent event Audi experienced extreme variations which puzzled even the most experienced engineers at the venue.
Zandvoort, too, will be primarily about making optimum use of the standardized tires prescribed by DTM rules, particularly since the wind on the North Sea coast keeps blowing sand onto the dune circuit and its aggressive tarmac. This makes for continually changing conditions which constantly produce differences in grip.
Audi has been able to handle these conditions well so far: in four out of six races since the brand's return with a manufacturer's commitment in 2004, an Audi A4 DTM won at Zandvoort. In the most recent events an Audi driver clinched the top grid position three consecutive times. The track record achieved so far this season contrasts these results: one victory and two pole positions despite good vehicle performance are a modest showing for the brand that in 2009 was the first automobile manufacturer in DTM history to achieve a title hat-trick.
Technical development has been frozen for the past year
In the fight for the 2010 DTM title the standardized tires prescribed for all entrants have long turned into the crucial issue. A year ago, the DTM with its manufacturers sent a clear signal: to relieve budgets, a freeze was imposed on the technology of all DTM cars. Since August 17, 2009, a development moratorium has been in effect in the DTM. Just one factor is new this year: for the 2010 season, Dunlop developed a new tire generation which accounts for the only difference - because the cars have not been changed compared to last year and the hands of the engineers and technicians of the manufacturers and teams are largely tied.
Timo Scheider returns to his favorite track
With 23 points in fifth place, Mattias Ekstrom is the best-placed Audi driver in the standings. After five races, the Swede just has one point less to his credit than he did in 2007 when he clinched his second DTM title. Timo Scheider is ranking six points behind Ekstrom on position six of the standings.
After a difficult start to the season, the DTM Champion of the past two years is beginning to feel an upward trend: the past three race weekends have seen a consistent improvement by the native of the Rhineland, who finished fourth after having started from position eight at the Nurburgring. This result meant that in the Eifel he was the best Audi driver for the first time this year. The 31-year-old pro has special memories of Circuit Park Zandvoort where Scheider started into a race from his first DTM pole position seven years ago. Three years ago, he even spearheaded a group of five Audi drivers in qualifying. In the race he took fourth place at that time, a year later he finished as the runner-up. The only thing the DTM Champion of the past two years is now lacking on the North Sea coast is a race victory.
Topics of the weekend
-? Will Audi achieve an equally convincing performance in qualifying and the race?
-? How will the sand affect the track this year?
-? Will Zandvoort continue to be the most popular race outside of Germany?
-? Will the older generation of the cars again produce a surprise as it did in qualifying last year?
-? Will Audi - after the performances by Timo Scheider (2007), Mattias Ekstrom (2008) and Oliver Jarvis (2009) - clinch the fourth consecutive pole position at Zandvoort?
Quotes by the officials
Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport): "In the past few years the round at Zandvoort has always been an event at which our cars have performed very well and the circuit suits our drivers very well, too. After the weekend at the Nurburgring we're fully concentrating on delivering a good team result at Zandvoort. We're set on deciding this race in our favor in order to be able to tackle the second half of the season on a respectively positive note."
Hans-Jurgen Abt (Team Director Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline): "We've always enjoyed traveling to Zandvoort because we've always known that our car runs well there. This time, we've got to continue to work on our performance. If we manage to do that, then Zandvoort will not be the only one of the top circuits remaining for us on the calendar. But Zandvoort in particular will show whether or not we're regaining our performance. We've got to tackle this event with full power and commitment and try and grab as many points from Mercedes as possible so that the championship will remain thrilling."
Ernst Moser (Team Director Audi Sport Team Phoenix): "We're very much looking forward to Zandvoort. It's always been a good track for Phoenix so far. We've already clinched podium positions here and even the first pole position of a year-old car in the DTM. This is what spurs us on again as we're traveling to this circuit. Both drivers are fully motivated to close the books on the two past races. We're set on really attacking there again."
Arno Zensen (Team Director Audi Sport Team Rosberg): "I've got fond memories of Zandvoort. That's the venue, by the way, at which our current team manager Kimmo Liimatainen in Formula 3 defeated his then team colleague Gary Paffett for us who after all, became champion that year. I'm looking forward to Zandvoort. It's a dune circuit with a fantastic atmosphere and you can even enjoy the beach after the action. Hopefully we'll achieve a result that finally gives Team Rosberg some points."
Facts and quotes by the Audi drivers
Mattias Ekstrom (32/S), Red Bull Audi A4 DTM #5 (Audi Sport Team Abt
-? Won at Zandvoort in 2002, 2004 and 2008
-? With a score of 23 points, continues to be the best Audi driver in the standings
-? Completed another NASCAR test between the Nurburgring and Zandvoort
-? Will contest his 99th DTM race at Zandvoort "Zandvoort will be interesting. I've always been strong there. So I'm even more excited to see what we'll manage to do in the Netherlands this year. But one thing is certain now: I'm out to take sporting revenge!"
Oliver Jarvis (26/GB), Tabac Original Audi A4 DTM #2 (Audi Sport Team
-? Was on the pole position in a year-old car last year
-? Achieved his so far best DTM result as the runner-up a year ago
-? Missed Q3 at the Nurburgring by a thousandth of a second "I want to forget the round at the Nurburgring as quickly as possible. I'm definitely looking forward to Zandvoort very much. The race last year was great. The facility is one of my favorite tracks. We want to achieve a great race result under all circumstances and I can hardly wait to drive there. And maybe I'll stay a few days longer to get a little kite surfing on the North Sea in."
Katherine Legge (30/GB), Glamour Audi A4 DTM #15 (Audi Sport Team
-? At the Nurburgring most recently missed making it into second qualifying by just 35 thousandths of a second
-? The Briton is particularly fond of the circuit along the North Sea coast "I love Zandvoort. The circuit layout is fast and fluid. For us drivers the track means a surge of adrenaline. I can hardly wait to compete there. In addition, it's one of the European rounds not being staged in Germany. That makes for a totally different feeling."
Miguel Molina (21/E), Audi Bank A4 DTM #18 (Audi Sport Rookie Team Abt)
-? Has never before run at Zandvoort
-? Wants to score further points like he did at the beginning of the season "Unfortunately, I don't know this circuit yet. It's a pretty fast track. Of course I'm hoping for a good result. Decent results are important as early as in practice and qualifying. I want to gather as much experience as possible in order to successfully continue my learning period."
Alexandre Premat (28/F), TV Movie Audi A4 DTM #9 (Audi Sport Team
-? As the runner-up in the 2007 race, achieved his so far best DTM result at Zandvoort
-? Had previously won the Formula 3 Masters there "I particularly like this circuit. In the DTM and in Formula 3 I achieved some very nice results. I'm definitely hoping to score points there and maybe we'll even be able to fight for a podium place again. I'll give everything for Audi and for Team Phoenix to move very far to the front."
Mike Rockenfeller (26/D), S line Audi A4 DTM #10 (Audi Sport Team
-? Started from the second row last year at Zandvoort
-? Was the best driver of a 2008-spec A4 DTM again most recently at the Nurburgring "After finishing out of the points at the Nurburgring it's nice to be competing again just two weeks later at Zandvoort. What a great track! It's incredibly good fun. Team Phoenix was often strong there in the past. I'm happy to be running for this team for the first time at this circuit. I'll try and deliver a good performance. The track should suit us and I'm very confident."
Timo Scheider (31/D), GW:plus/Top Service Audi A4 DTM #1 (Audi Sport Team
-? In 2003 and 2007 started from the pole position in the Netherlands
-? Was the runner-up at Zandvoort in 2008 "Zandvoort has always been one of my favorite tracks to this day. That's where I clinched my first pole position in the DTM as well. So I've always had positive memories. Unfortunately, I'm still lacking a victory. It would be nice if this happened on the next race weekend. We're working toward that aim. I'm traveling there with a very good feeling from the Nurburgring because, for one, I managed a relatively good performance in the Eifel and, for the other, because Zandvoort is one of my favorite tracks on the calendar."
Martin Tomczyk (28/D), Red Bull Cola Audi A4 DTM #6 (Audi Sport Team Abt
-? Is one of three Audi drivers so far to have won at Zandvoort
-? With just four points in the standings, wants to clearly make up ground "Zandvoort is a great track. In the past years I've always felt very comfortable on this demanding circuit. We've got to deal with various conditions there - with sand and with wind, which is very extreme at this circuit. But if everything works the way it should and the car has a good set-up, the circuit is really great to drive and makes a lot of demands on the driver."
Markus Winkelhock (30/D), Playboy/GW:plus Audi A4 DTM #14 (Audi Sport
-? Wants to finally open his points account in the 2010 DTM standings
-? Eighth place is his so far best result at Zandvoort "Zandvoort is on my list of favorite tracks. First, it's an Audi track. Our car should be performing pretty well there. Second, I personally feel comfortable there. That's why I'm hoping to be more fortunate there than I last was at the Nurburgring. My wish is for an upward trend to start for us there."
Alexandre Premat about Zandvoort: "I'm particularly fond of Zandvoort and think it is one of the nicest circuits in motorsport. Obviously, it's amazing to drive through the dunes, just a stone's throw from the sea. The sensations are even more intense in the cockpit here, partly because of the setting and also because of the track layout. The area is hilly and so is the circuit, and there are some spectacular bends. In some places, we can reach speeds of between 200 and 220 km/h. The Audi A4 has always been a strong performer at Zandvoort thanks to its good aerodynamics. And year-old cars have had very good chances of doing well in recent years, too. Zandvoort is also a great venue for the fans, as the main grandstand gives them an excellent view of the goings-on in the pit lane and in the first corner."
DTM statistics at Zandvoort since 2004 (Audi "factory" commitment)
Audi victories: 4
Pole positions: 4
Fastest laps: 2
Zandvoort 2009 flashback
In front of a crowd of 38,000 throughout the weekend Mattias Ekstrom demonstrated why he is regarded as the "King of Zandvoort": with an impressive recovery, the Swede advanced from position nine on the grid to second place. In the end, the two-time DTM Champion was just 1.431 seconds short of achieving his fourth Zandvoort triumph. However, due to a suspected team order Ekstrom was relegated to third place, behind Oliver Jarvis. The Briton, who had started from the pole position, gave away his chance for victory by slipping on lap 14. Alexandre Premat, Markus Winkelhock and Timo Scheider were retroactively disqualified for violations of the rules.