Audi sets its sights on DTM title Ingolstadt/Dijon -- The motorsport world will be focusing on France on October 11 with eager anticipation: For the first time, the DTM will visit the legendary French circuit of Dijon-Prenois at which one of ...
Audi sets its sights on DTM title
Ingolstadt/Dijon -- The motorsport world will be focusing on France on October 11 with eager anticipation: For the first time, the DTM will visit the legendary French circuit of Dijon-Prenois at which one of the most spectacular Formula 1 races of all time took place exactly 30 years ago. And for the first time an automobile manufacturer could be securing a third consecutive DTM title -- because Audi driver Timo Scheider will have the first "matchball" in France.
The reigning DTM champion will travel to the DTM's debut at Dijon-Prenois with an advantage of 12 points over his team colleague Mattias Ekstrom, 14 over Mercedes driver Gary Paffett and 20 over Martin Tomczyk. Consequently, Scheider will also lead the standings after the ninth race of the season. If the 30-year-old German has a perfect race weekend, he will arrive at the DTM finale at Hockenheim 14 days later as the new and old champion.
Scheider can win the championship early at Dijon-Prenois on his own power -- irrespective of the results of his closest rivals. To do so, he would have to win the race or finish as the runner-up. On the other hand, his three remaining rivals in the title fight have to hope for a poor result of the leader of the standings and score a lot of points themselves: Martin Tomczyk has to win in order to stay in the title race. Gary Paffett needs at least a fifth- and Mattias Ekstrom a sixth-place finish.
However, Timo Scheider & company are in for what may be their trickiest task of the year. The 3.801-kilometer circuit of Dijon-Prenois, with an average speed of almost 200 km/h, is by far the fastest track on the DTM calendar and the race, with a distance of 197.652 km, the longest of the season.
In addition, the extremely fast turns put a severe strain on the tires. Particularly the left front tire is considered highly vulnerable. Therefore, an optimum set-up, the right strategy and a sensible driving style are of paramount importance at Dijon-Prenois. Because the high-speed circuit hardly offers any overtaking opportunities, qualifying on Saturday will be even more important than at the previous seven races of the season.
That the circuit of Dijon-Prenois suits Timo Scheider as well as the Audi A4 DTM was obvious as early as during the official tests held prior to the start of the season at which the reigning champion posted the fastest time. In addition, the aerodynamically refined A4 handles fast turns particularly well. The start-finish straight covering a distance of more than one kilometer does not give Audi much reason to worry either: In most of the top speed measurements the A4 has been the front runner this year.
Although Audi travels to France with two racers heading the standings and three of the remaining four title candidates are Audi drivers, the squad at Ingolstadt and Neckarsulm is perfectly aware of the fact that the coveted title is not yet in its pocket. Too much can happen in the DTM -- and the strong competition from Stuttgart will leave no stone unturned to postpone the decision to the finale at Hockenheim.
Still, should the champion be determined as early as at Dijon-Prenois, Audi would be the first automobile manufacturer in the history of the DTM that has been held since 1984 to win the title for the third consecutive time -- and Timo Scheider the second DTM driver after Bernd Schneider (2000/2001) to manage a successful title defense.
So there are reasons galore to travel to the DTM race in Burgundy or to turn on the TV. ARD will broadcast live from Dijon-Prenois, qualifying on Saturday starting at 1:25 pm (German time) and the race on Sunday starting at 1:45 pm.
Quotes before the DTM race at Dijon-Prenois
Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport): "With our exploit at Barcelona we've taken a major step toward successfully defending our title in the DTM. But we've still got two important races coming up that have to go well for us. This requires a lot of work and concentration. The round at Dijon-Prenois will be a new experience for everyone. It will be very important to quickly achieve a good set-up for the cars based on the test results in spring so that we'll be able to deliver a compact team performance again."
Timo Scheider (GW:plus/Top Service Audi A4 DTM 2009 #1), 1st place (53 points) "I'm tremendously looking forward to Dijon-Prenois, not only because of the mustard ... For one, the track is new on the calendar -- and something new is always interesting. For the other, at Dijon you can really feel how much downforce a DTM car generates. In addition, just before the start and finish there's an ultra-fast right-hand turn which is exceptional for the car and the load acting on the tires. With regard to tire wear we've got to achieve a decent balance because there's a high risk of having a puncture. In the test before the start of the season I was the quickest. That's why I'm going for all-out attack."
Mattias Ekstrom (Red Bull Audi A4 DTM 2009 #5), 2nd place (41 points) "I'm really looking forward to Dijon. After Barcelona we had a small break from racing from which I'll come back in top shape. I'll give everything I've got to achieve a good result. Although I'm twelve points behind Timo (Scheider) I've still got chances for the title, and I plan to use them."
Martin Tomczyk (Red Bull Cola Audi A4 DTM 2009 #6), 4th place (33 points) "I think that we'll be seeing only few overtaking maneuvers at Dijon because it's a track on which aerodynamics counts more than anything else. I'm excited about it, but, in the end, it's new territory for everyone. I think that this if nothing else will make for a thrilling round."
Tom Kristensen (100 Jahre Audi -- A4 DTM 2009 #2), 7th place (21 points) "Dijon-Prenois is a traditional race track with fast and demanding turns and many differences in altitudes. You need to drive in a very sensible and disciplined manner because it can also be a very dangerous track. That's why it's necessary to do a particularly good job in terms of aerodynamic set-up and wheel camber. But I'm looking forward to it. In the test we saw that you achieve very high cornering speeds there. The spectators can look forward to the DTM race cars which drive through some of the turns so fast that just watching becomes a truly fantastic spectacle. And thanks to the differences in elevation there are many good places from where spectators have a view of several turns. So, everyone can look forward to the race at the new venue that has been included on the DTM calendar."
Oliver Jarvis (Audi Cup A4 DTM 2008 #15), 9th place (15 points) "At the beginning of the year we did some DTM tests at Dijon and they really went well for Audi. This is a race track I definitely like a lot -- a fantastic circuit. I'm really happy to be racing there soon. It would be nice, though, if we were a little lighter. But I think that if we find the right set-up we can be strong anyway. That's why I'm hoping for a good race in which we can score some more points."
Markus Winkelhock (Playboy Audi A4 DTM 2008 #12), 10th place (10 points) "Of course I'm hoping that things will be going better again than they last did at Barcelona. The circuit suits me pretty well, in the official test I was the second-fastest behind Timo (Scheider). Still, it won't be an easy weekend because we'll have 20 more kilograms on board than the old Mercedes cars. We've got to wait and see how our performance will be there."
Mike Rockenfeller (S line Audi A4 DTM 2008 #11), 13th place (4 points) "The circuit is very nice and I think that it suits our car well. Surely the fact that we've got 20 more kilograms on board than the year-old Mercedes cars is a disadvantage -- that doesn't make things any easier. But I still think that we'll be fast there if we manage a good set-up from the outset."
Alexandre Premat (Audi Bank A4 DTM 2008 #14), 14th place (1 point) "I'm ready for my home race at Dijon. It's only 300 kilometers away from Paris. It's a great track. I've won there in Formula Renault and in winter we had a good test there. That's why I'm hoping that we'll do a good job at Dijon-Prenois. However, you never know what to expect in France because there's a good chance of rain at this time of the year. I'll give everything I've got to finish in the points again."
Katherine Legge (Audi Collection A4 DTM 2008 #21), 18th place (0 points) "I'm looking forward to Dijon-Prenois. It's a new venue and anything's possible. It should be a very exciting race."
Hans-Jurgen Abt (Team Director Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline): "We've got to continue working with full concentration because we may even have the chance of clinching the championship early. The whole team simply has to keep cool now and continue working the way it did at the last races."
Ernst Moser (Team Director Audi Sport Team Phoenix): "During the tests at the beginning of the year at Dijon we were running really well with both drivers. I believe that Oliver (Jarvis) in particular seems to love the track. Unfortunately, we've got more weight on board than our competitors with the star, which will surely not be of help to us. We've got to live with that. On the other hand, Alexandre (Premat) clinched his first point in the last race. If we do everything right the way we did at Barcelona, we'll still achieve a lot at Dijon. I'm really looking forward to a truly old, classic track with heart-shaped turns -- even though that does harbor a certain amount of danger."
Arno Zensen (Team Director Audi Sport Team Rosberg): "Of course I'm looking forward to Dijon -- fine cuisine, a great race track. We've tested there before, and these tests went pretty well. After the weekend at Barcelona I'm hoping that we'll improve again. There are two more races to go at which a few points are up for grabs. However, we've got 20 more kilograms of weight than the year-old Mercedes cars. Of course that'll be tough. I'm hoping for rain for the race because we can even achieve a little bit more in that case."
Facts and Figures
The circuit at Dijon-Prenois was inaugurated in 1972, the current circuit layout has been in existence since 1975 ... From 1974 to 1984 Dijon-Prenois was the venue of a Formula 1 Grand Prix six times ... 1979 saw one of the most spectacular Formula 1 races in history at Dijon-Prenois in which Gilles Villeneuve and Rene Arnoux fought a legendary duel ... Keke Rosberg, founder of Audi Sport Team Rosberg that also bears his name, won the Swiss Grand Prix in 1982 at Dijon-Prenois ... During tests held prior to the start of the season Timo Scheider drove the fastest lap at 1m 09.738s (average speed: 197.652 km/h) ... After Magny-Cours and Le Mans, Dijon-Prenois is the third French venue of a DTM race ... Katherine Legge will contest her 20th DTM race at Dijon, Mike Rockenfeller his 30th. ... In 2006, a title decision was also made at a DTM debut in France: At that time, Bernd Schneider became champion at Le Mans.
Alexandre Premat about the circuit at Dijon-Prenois: "Dijon is the fastest race track on this year's DTM calendar. You drive through the last turn at a speed of about 210 km/h. It's easy to come too close to the car in front of you because you lose too much downforce. I really like the track a lot. I've won races there in Formula Renault and also drove a few Formula 3 tests. Still, I was surprised when I came to Dijon-Prenois with the DTM to test at the beginning of the year: It's simply great to see DTM cars on this track. I'm sure that the DTM fans will love Dijon. The circuit has a lot to offer: fast turns, inclines, a dip and various types of tarmac. And I believe that the qualifying sessions there will be the most important ones of the year: Starting from the front row of the grid will be a preliminary decision of the race because overtaking at Dijon is extremely difficult."