Five Audi cars on top eight grid positions
• Thrilling DTM qualifying at the Lausitzring
• Mattias Ekström and Martin Tomczyk on row two
• Strong DTM comeback by Tom Kristensen
Ingolstadt/Klettwitz, June 18, 2011 - Two Audi drivers, Mattias Ekström (Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline) and Martin Tomczyk (Audi Sport Team Phoenix), are starting from the second row to the DTM race at the Lausitzring (live broadcast on "Das Erste" on Sunday starting at 1:45 p.m., local time). In total, five Audi A4 DTM cars made it into the top eight.
On the race track in East Germany that has been traditionally difficult for Audi the brand with the four rings fought a captivating battle with the competition from Mercedes-Benz for the pole position in which the pendulum swung in the direction of Mercedes-Benz only at the very last moment.
After the quickest vehicles were within just a few thousandths of a second in the first three qualifying sections Mattias Ekström and Martin Tomczyk in the crucial last segment (Q4) lost almost half a second to the quickest in qualifying, Bruno Spengler. "On the new tires we were running really well," commented Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. "On the used tires we found ourselves struggling a bit more in Q4 - we’ve got to work on that. But even though we always aim for pole and the front row we’re in a pretty good position for the race with five cars on the top eight grid positions."
After having experienced two qualifying events that went less than perfectly for him Mattias Ekström was back again at Lausitz and, like last year, put his Audi A4 DTM on position three of the grid. "I’m particularly happy for my guys," said the Swede, "because they’ve had two difficult weekends in the DTM lately."
The two-time DTM champion missed the front row by just 67 thousandths of a second. The runner-up in the standings, Martin Tomczyk, in fourth place was only 31 thousandths slower and will start from row two as well.
By taking grid position six, Oliver Jarvis confirmed his upward trend. Tom Kristensen on position seven managed a remarkable DTM comeback. The record Le Mans winner stood in at short notice for Mike Rockenfeller who is taking a break after his severe accident at Le Mans. By setting the fastest time in the first free practice session on Friday Kristensen had already suggested that he is still competitive in the DTM.
For the first time in his still young DTM career the Portuguese Filipe Albuquerque (Audi Sport Team Rosberg) managed the leap into the top eight. Timo Scheider in ninth place missed Q3 by a mere 15 thousandths of a second.
With Miguel Molina and Edoardo Mortara on positions eleven and twelve a total of eight Audi A4 DTM cars will start into the race from the top twelve grid positions. Only Rahel Frey was eliminated as early as in Q1. However, the young Swiss is in good company on the last row. Standing alongside her is former Formula 1 racer Ralf Schumacher, who was still in contention for victory 14 days ago at Spielberg, which clearly shows how close the competition is in the DTM.
For the race a 30-percent probability of rain has been predicted. Audi last won at the Lausitzring six years ago.
In the last section of qualifying it was simply not possible for us to keep the pace of Mercedes
Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport)
"Up to the top eight things were going well for us. We’ve got five Audi cars in the top eight, which underlines a good team performance. And in the last section of qualifying it was simply not possible for us to keep the pace of Mercedes. Two cars on the second row of the grid and five in the top eight is a good base for the race. It’ll probably be difficult but we’ll try everything. Tom (Kristensen) has shown how strong he is. He’s been gone for almost two years and is immediately among the front runners again."
Mattias Ekström (Red Bull Audi A4 DTM), grid position 3
"It’s nice to be back at the front again. Grid position three is okay, but in the end we were much too slow. The first qualifying sections went well but on used tires we didn’t have a chance in Q4. Of course that’s a bit frustrating after having been so close to the top before. I think we simply didn’t have the optimal set-up for less grip. Tomorrow in the race I’ll give everything to mount the podium and to score good points."
Martin Tomczyk (Schaeffler Audi A4 DTM), grid position 4
"Obviously, I can be satisfied. Fourth place is a good starting base. We saw that we’re competitive here on new tires. As far as the fourth qualifying section goes you’ve got to be honest: Mercedes deserves credit for being more competitive on used tires and setting times we weren’t able to set. At least in qualifying they were a tiny bit better than we. On Sunday we’ll attack in order to break Mercedes’ dominance."
Oliver Jarvis (Audi Sport performance cars A4 DTM), grid position 6
"Such a close qualifying session! Small mistakes made a big difference today. I’m a bit disappointed about P6 but I can still smile because we’re in contention at the front of the field. And that’s important."
Tom Kristensen (E-POSTBRIEF Audi A4 DTM), grid position 7
"Audi Sport and Team Abt - it’s simply super-cool with them. But we mustn’t forget why I’m here: to stand in for Mike Rockenfeller. I’m hearing that he’s doing much better and hope that he’ll soon be really fit again. I only arrived here on Friday morning and have not been in the DTM since the Hockenheim finale in 2009. They’re now using different tires here. It’s crucial to get the sector times together. In Q2 I was driving really good sectors. I’d have tried that in the next qualifying section too but my car was jumping a bit in turn one. That impaired my line a little. And on my second lap I had a bit too much oversteer. But in the end it was a good qualifying session."
Filipe Albuquerque (TV Movie Audi A4 DTM), grid position 8
"I’ve got mixed feelings. I’m happy to be in Q3 for the first time but I wasn’t happy with my last lap. I could have done better. If you’re driving at the limit here and make a small mistake you’re out quickly. I pushed to make it into Q4. We’re getting better from race to race. I’m hoping to continue to make such progress."
Timo Scheider (AUTO TEST Audi A4 DTM), grid position 9
"The team and I took a risk in the morning and tried out a different set-up. We then changed our mind again and used what the other guys were driving with. Maybe the truth is somewhere in between. We lost a lot of time in the last sector. Of course that’s very disappointing."
Miguel Molina (Red Bull Audi A4 DTM), grid position 11
"The qualifying sessions are very close. Our car was good, everything was going pretty well. But in the end I had to lift a bit because we had traffic in the last turn. That made the difference."
Edoardo Mortara (Playboy Audi A4 DTM), grid position 12
"I made too many mistakes today. Twelfth place isn’t what we’d been hoping for after the fastest time in Q1. It was my fault that I didn’t make it into Q3. My team did a superb job, I had a great car. I want to thank Team Rosberg and Audi. Now I’m hoping for a good race and think that we’ve got the potential for it."
Rahel Frey (Glamour Audi A4 DTM), grid position 18
"We knew the track from the test. But the Lausitzring is not one of my favorite tracks. We lost nearly a second, that’s acceptable. But in the race we’ve got to fight to catch up with the field. I’ll continue to do my best. On Friday we wanted to drive long runs but unfortunately my bout of nausea thwarted our plans."
Hans-Jürgen Abt (Team Director Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline):
"I’m really happy for Mattias (Ekström) that he’s regained his performance. More wasn’t possible. He was already running two laps on his tires and that meant he was at the limit. I’m particularly pleased with Tom Kristensen’s showing. He’s done a great job of getting back into the action - it’s as though he’d never left. You can tell that he’s a real pro. And he’s very cool and relaxed. Now we’re ready for the assault on Sunday. We can attack the cars in front of us. Sometimes that’s even an advantage in the DTM. And in the end we can be pretty pleased with the team result."
Ernst Moser (Team Director Audi Sport Team Phoenix):
"At the Lausitzring we’ve always seen a Mercedes dominance. That’s why the result on the second row is worth even more. In Q3 we could see that all the guys were within one tenth. If in a situation like that you advance as much as Martin (Tomczyk) did that’s certainly a great feat. With Rahel (Frey) we’re on position 18 again where we actually didn’t want to be. However, she had lost practice time on Friday."
Arno Zensen (Team Director Audi Sport Team Rosberg):
"The positive thing was that we showed that the pace of both drivers was good. In the first qualifying section we occupied positions one and two. The thing that makes me particularly happy is that Filipe (Albuquerque) has been the best rookie. He made it into the top eight. That certainly makes it possible to score points on Sunday. Edo (Mortara) went beyond the limits of his car a bit. That can happen as both drivers are new in the DTM. It’s important that the pace is right. There’s more to come yet."