Catalunya: Audi preview

Ole Audi: Going to Barcelona as the DTM leader Ingolstadt/Barcelona -- The situation in the DTM is coming to a head: The race at Barcelona (Spain) on September 20 kicks off the crucial phase of the fight for the title in the most popular ...

Ole Audi: Going to Barcelona as the DTM leader

Ingolstadt/Barcelona -- The situation in the DTM is coming to a head: The race at Barcelona (Spain) on September 20 kicks off the crucial phase of the fight for the title in the most popular international touring car racing series. Nine drivers still have theoretical chances of achieving overall victory -- and Audi is the brand with the best prospects in the title gamble.

Before the last three races of the season two Audi drivers -- Timo Scheider and Mattias Ekstrom -- who know how to win the DTM are ranking at the top of the standings: Scheider became the champion last year, Ekstrom did in 2004 and 2007. Both racers have received clear marching orders: to again bring the prestigious title home to Ingolstadt and Neckarsulm. It would be the seventh for the brand with the four rings. In addition, Audi would be the first automobile manufacturer in history to win the DTM crown for the third consecutive time.

Theoretically, as many as nine drivers could still become champion based on the point scores. Realistically, though, the circle of candidates for the title is reduced to six: First of all Scheider (43 points), Ekstrom (38) and Gary Paffett (34), who, as the best Mercedes driver, is ranking third in the standings. Paul Di Resta (29), Bruno Spengler (29) and Martin Tomczyk (27) also still have outsider's chances, but only if all three favourites fail to score at Barcelona.

This possibility can never be ruled out in the DTM, though, particularly since the contenders are now increasingly fighting with no holds barred, as Brands Hatch most recently showed. And although Barcelona's DTM history is still relatively brief, it has been a turbulent one marked by collisions, penalties and trouble.

Accordingly, fans can look forward to another exciting DTM race to which Audi goes with a small advantage: Due to the results at Brands Hatch the current Audi A4 DTM cars are ten kilograms lighter than the 2009-spec cars of their rivals. And on the just 2.977-kilometer version of the Circuit de Catalunya the smallest detail counts.

The driver of the Audi squad who has the fondest memories of Barcelona is Martin Tomczyk, who celebrated his first of so far four DTM victories there in 2006 and started from the pole position twice. However, his track record in Spain includes negative experiences as well: In 2007, Tomczyk -- while leading the race -- was pushed off the track by a rival. His opponent in the accident received a record penalty of 20,000 euros at that time.

All experts agree that Barcelona may produce the preliminary decision in the title fight. Consequently, the situation is volatile and suspense is at an all-time high before the race. As usual, ARD will air live coverage: qualifying on Saturday (September 19) starting at 1:30 pm, the race on Sunday (September 20) starting at 1:45 pm (German times).

Quotes before the DTM race at Barcelona

Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport): "Before Barcelona we've got a very good starting base in the championship. Of course at the next three races it'll be very important for us to always score a lot of points. And naturally, after our second place at Brands Hatch, it would be nice being able to clinch victory again at Barcelona. We'll give everything we've got to make that happen."

Timo Scheider (GW:plus/Top Service Audi A4 DTM 2009 #1), 1st place (43 points)

"The current standings in the championship put us in a good position for the next round at Barcelona -- particularly as we've got a weight advantage of ten kilograms. For me, this means continuing to score lots of points, using my head and trying even harder than before to grab as many points as possible in the last three races without taking excessive risks."

Mattias Ekstrom (Red Bull Audi A4 DTM 2009 #5), 2nd place (38 points)

"I'm looking forward to Barcelona. It's high time for a perfect weekend -- clearly, that's my goal. I'll try to finally achieve this."

Martin Tomczyk (Red Bull Cola Audi A4 DTM 2009 #6), 6th place (27 points)

"In the past few years we always had mixed feelings at Barcelona to some extent. On one hand, I clinched my first DTM victory there but on the other there were also a few unpleasant incidents with rivals. I think we'll be very quick again at Barcelona and hope that we'll be able to make good use of the ten kilos our car is lighter. That's why I'm already looking forward to Spain."

Oliver Jarvis (Audi Cup A4 DTM 2008 #15), 8th place (15 points)

"Barcelona was a very tough race for me last year. But I learned a lot and am happy to be able to drive there again. The circuit is fantastic and very technical. As a result, the gaps should be bigger than they last were at Brands Hatch. I'm afraid that it'll be a demanding weekend for the 2008-spec Audi cars. But I think we've still got the chance to score points there."

Tom Kristensen (100 Jahre Audi -- A4 DTM 2009 #2), 9th place (13 points)

"I've still got three DTM races ahead of me. At the last two rounds I was pretty heavily shot off the track. That's why I'm hoping for a good race -- finally -- at Barcelona. The track is perfectly suited for the DTM. It enables high speeds and there are some nice turns. I'm looking forward to it."

Markus Winkelhock (Playboy Audi A4 DTM 2008 #12), 10th place (10 points)

"Actually, I've only had two successful weekends this year; the rest of the time was marked by quite a bit of misfortune. I'm hoping that misfortune will not play a part at Barcelona and that I'll be able to finish in the points again. That won't be easy because we're carrying higher weight again in the year-old Audi."

Mike Rockenfeller (S line Audi A4 DTM 2008 #11), 13th place (4 points)

"I'm really looking forward to the next race at Barcelona. Last year that was a very good weekend for me. After winning the LMS I drove my best DTM race there last year and finished fifth. I like the circuit. The two points I took home from Brands Hatch should give us a boost."

Alexandre Premat (Audi Bank A4 DTM 2008 #14), 17th place (0 points)

"I'm very happy to be driving again at Barcelona. It's a very nice circuit that suits our car well. We aim to give out best. Even though we're carrying more weight compared to the year-old cars from Mercedes we're going to fight for points again."

Katherine Legge (Audi Collection A4 DTM 2008 #21), 18th place (0 points)

"I'm looking forward to Barcelona. It's a great area and I like the circuit. Driving in Spain enriches the DTM. I'm hoping for a good result."

Hans-Jurgen Abt (Team Director Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline): "We're very excited about Barcelona. The environment there is fantastic and we've got big plans. We aim to consolidate our position in the championship. The season is winding down and the prerequisites are very good at the moment. Everybody at Audi wants to deliver a great result and a solid team performance at Barcelona."

Ernst Moser (Team Director Audi Sport Team Phoenix): "Our primary goal is to finish the year with Oliver (Jarvis) in front of (Jamie) Green. He upset us a little at Brands Hatch so we want to upset him a little and snatch further points from him to close the gap. In the end, we want Oliver to be the best driver of a year-old car. For Alex (Premat), finally receiving the points he deserves is our top priority."

Arno Zensen (Team Director Audi Sport Team Rosberg): "At Barcelona we've always had very good races so far. We never went home without points. I'd really like to achieve the feat we didn't, or just barely fell short of achieving, at Brands Hatch, that is having both cars finish in the points. I think that's possible, particularly at Barcelona."

Facts and figures

In 2009, the DTM visits the Circuit de Catalunya, the third-shortest track on the DTM calendar (2.977-kilometer length) for as much as the fourth time ... In the previous three races at Barcelona Audi clinched two pole positions and victory in the debut race in 2006 ... The 2006 winner, Martin Tomczyk, contests his 90th DTM race at Barcelona ... Martin Tomczyk started to the race at Barcelona from the pole position as many as too times.

Martin Tomczyk about the circuit at Barcelona: "I like the track at Barcelona. Just the new chicane is a bit unfamiliar and not so much fun. Because of the chicane, traction is an important aspect. Other than that, top speed, aerodynamics and braking at the end of the two long straights are crucial factors. Barcelona is really very demanding. It has a bit of everything. The fast turn on the hilltop before the counter-straight is very critical. That's where you arrive in a totally blind flight. And because it's a fast turn you can either gain or lose a lot of time there."

-credit: audi

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About this article
Series DTM
Drivers Tom Kristensen , Martin Tomczyk , Timo Scheider , Mattias Ekström , Katherine Legge , Bruno Spengler , Gary Paffett , Alexandre Prémat , Mike Rockenfeller , Oliver Jarvis , Markus Winkelhock , Hans-Jurgen Abt
Teams Team Abt , Phoenix Racing , Audi Sport Team Rosberg