Catalunya: Audi Motorsport preview

Audi reaches for DTM title at Barcelona Title fight in the DTM comes to a head Two Audi drivers at top of table Audi heads to Spain as last year's Iberian race winner It's getting serious in the DTM: At Barcelona (Spain) on Sunday 23 September...

Audi reaches for DTM title at Barcelona

Title fight in the DTM comes to a head Two Audi drivers at top of table Audi heads to Spain as last year's Iberian race winner It's getting serious in the DTM: At Barcelona (Spain) on Sunday 23 September the championship battle could be decided -- to the benefit of Audi.

Audi driver Mattias Ekstrom (Sweden) arrives as championship leader to the Circuit de Catalunya and could win the title -- depending on the results of his rivals -- with a win or second place at the penultimate round. His team mate Martin Tomczyk, who has won the last two races and who claimed his first DTM win at Barcelona in 2006, is only four points behind.

>From Audi's point of view, the ten point lead over third placed Bruno Spengler is more important. Ekstrom will hold an unassailable lead going into the Hockenheim finale on 14 October even if he only scores one more point at Barcelona than the Mercedes driver.

Bernd Schneider (16.5 points behind) and Paul di Resta (19 points behind) are two further Mercedes drivers with a mathematical chance of winning the title. The Audi team will therefore also be keeping a sharp eye on this pair.

The weight situation adds another dimension to DTM title fight: The 2007 cars from Audi and Mercedes compete with identical ballast for the first time since the season opener in Hockenheim. The leading contenders should be very closely matched as a result.

The Audi team heads to Barcelona filled with confidence after claiming three pole positions and two victories in succession but will not underestimate the strength of the competition and their wish to win. Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline filled the first three grid positions last year. Martin Tomczyk celebrated his first DTM race win, and Mattias Ekstrom still finished fourth despite receiving a controversial drive-through penalty.

The circuit close to Barcelona has been changed since last year, the fast final corner, which particularly suited the Audi A4 DTM, has been replaced by a slow chicane. However, the A4 also performed well on the new circuit layout during the pre-season tests.

Quotes before the race at Barcelona

Dr Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport): "The circuit close to Barcelona on which Martin Tomczyk celebrated his first DTM win last season suited our cars extremely well. Since then the circuit layout has been changed because of the wishes of Formula 1, and now, in front of the fast final corner which suited our cars, there is a chicane. If we want to win the championship we'll also have to be competitive on this version of the circuit -- we are working on it. Mercedes will certainly do everything possible to make sure that the championship is decided at the last race. I also have nothing against this -- provided that the only title candidates are called Mattias Ekstrom and Martin Tomczyk!"

Mattias Ekstrom (Red Bull Audi A4 DTM #3): "I'm really looking forward to Barcelona. It's a good feeling to come to the penultimate race as championship leader. We were very competitive at Barcelona last year, but I was only fourth in the race. That tells me that I still have a nut to crack there! This time I'll concentrate fully on winning the race."

Martin Tomczyk (Red Bull Audi A4 DTM #4): "I can't wait to get to Barcelona especially as I won my first DTM race there last year. I'm currently riding the crest of a wave after having won the last two races in succession. I hope I can keep the momentum going in Spain. I think Audi are in a good position for Barcelona."

Tom Kristensen (Siemens Audi A4 DTM #7): "Barcelona is a fantastic city. It's great to be racing again in Spain. A lot of spectators came last year and gave the DTM a fabulous reception. The circuit has been modified since then and I haven't heard a lot of good things about it. Anyway, Audi can win the championship at Barcelona and this is the main thing. Personally I'll be even fitter than I was at the Nurburgring."

Timo Scheider (Gebrauchtwagen:plus/Top Service Audi A4 DTM #8): "It certainly won't be any easier for us at Barcelona, particularly as we have the same ballast weight as Mercedes and the championship is coming to a head. Audi had a good set-up at Barcelona last year, and for this reason I'm really looking forward to the race even though we've lost a small advantage we had over Mercedes because of the new chicane -- particularly as our strengths lie in the medium and high-speed corners."

Mike Rockenfeller (S line Audi A4 DTM #11): "I know the circuit from the winter tests there with the Audi A4 DTM. We'll do our best, but it won't be easy. It was already very difficult for us at the Nurburgring with the 2006 cars, and it won't be any easier at Barcelona."

Lucas Luhr (Philips Audi A4 DTM #12): "Barcelona is a very good circuit. However, I preferred it more without the chicane. We tested there during the winter and will try to replicate the good test results on the race weekend."

Christian Abt (Playboy Audi A4 DTM #16): "I enjoy visiting Spain and the Spanish flair is fantastic. However, Barcelona isn't exactly one of my favourite circuits, but perhaps it will be if we win the title for Audi there--"

Alexandre Premat (Audi Bank Audi A4 DTM #17): "I'm delighted to be returning to Barcelona. I won a GP2 race there last year and beat Lewis Hamilton into the bargain. I was very fast there in a single-seater, and when we tested at Barcelona in the winter with Audi -- I was very strong there too. I'm confident that we'll look good."

Markus Winkelhock (Audi A4 DTM #20): "After things didn't run so well for me at the Nurburgring, I'm trying to prepare myself both mentally and physically as well as possible for Barcelona. I've never driven on the circuit even though I was there twice this year with Formula 1. I never got the chance to drive, but was at least able to jog around the circuit in the evening."

Vanina Ickx (Audi A4 DTM #21): "Last year I had a good qualifying lap in the rain at Barcelona. I'm looking forward to going back there. I hope that the circuit will be wet again--"

Hans-Jurgen Abt (Team Director Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline): "We saw at the Nurburgring that our team and drivers can deliver top performances and work without making mistakes under enormous pressure. This gives us confidence for Barcelona. We'll continue to approach our work in a concentrated manner and fight for the title."

Ernst Moser (Team Director Audi Sport Team Phoenix): "We were able to test at Barcelona during the winter and plenty of data, which is why we should find the sweet spot relatively quickly. This is important to be able to get into the top eight in qualifying."

Arno Zensen (Team Director Audi Sport Team Rosberg): "We have good memories of Barcelona: Frank (Stippler) scored points there last year. We are all looking forward to the race -- and hopefully warmer weather than more recently at the Nurburgring..."

-credit: audi

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About this article
Series DTM
Drivers Tom Kristensen , Vanina Ickx , Lucas Luhr , Martin Tomczyk , Bernd Schneider , Timo Scheider , Christian Abt , Mattias Ekström , Paul di Resta , Alexandre Prémat , Mike Rockenfeller , Markus Winkelhock , Hans-Jurgen Abt
Teams Team Abt , Phoenix Racing , Audi Sport Team Rosberg