Audi well prepared for start to DTM season Ingolstadt/Hockenheim -- The waiting is over: After exactly 203 race-free days, the lights starting the most popular international touring car racing series will switch from red to green for the ...
Audi well prepared for start to DTM season
Ingolstadt/Hockenheim -- The waiting is over: After exactly 203 race-free days, the lights starting the most popular international touring car racing series will switch from red to green for the first time again on Sunday, May 17, 2009, at exactly 2:03 pm (local time). It will be the 100th race in the history of the "new" DTM -- and the beginning of an ambitious task: In the year of its 100th anniversary Audi wants to become the first automobile manufacturer to win the prestigious DTM title for the third time in a row.
The squad around Head of Audi Motorsportchef Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich is well prepared for the DTM's start to the season at the Hockenheimring. According to the motto, "Never change a winning team," the driver line-up has remained the same as last year's. The championship-winning car, the Audi A4 DTM, was subjected to further development in numerous details, now bears the word "plus" after Audi Sport's internal model designation "R14," and is even faster than the successful predecessor model. However, due to the regulations, the 2009-spec A4 DTM has to start from the grid with an additional 20 kilograms of weight compared to the 2008-spec vehicles.
How much of a difference the additional weight will make is not the only open question prior to the season opener. The event at Hockenheim will be the first one featuring a condensed format: On Friday, there will only be a short roll-out, the two test sessions have been eliminated. Instead, the free practice session on Saturday morning will now last two and a half hours. Qualifying has been complemented by a fourth segment in which the four fastest drivers on just one flying lap will fight for the pole position on used tires and without refueling.
In addition, only Hockenheim will show who has done their homework best in winter because experience has shown that the contenders do not put all their cards on the table during the official DTM tests.
In the past few years, Audi Sport always set the benchmark: Twice in a row Mattias Ekstom won the season opener at Hockenheim. In 2008, at the new Audi A4 DTM's debut, the brand even clinched a one-two-three victory.
Despite the reduction to nine "factory" fielded Audi A4 A4 DTM cars the brand with the four rings will be the strongest in the 2009 DTM field with the private team of Dr. Colin Kolles is entering three additional A4 vehicles.
The first DTM race of the year 2009 will start at 2:03 pm on Sunday, May 17. ARD will broadcast live from Hockenheim on "das Erste" starting at 1:45 pm (local time). Tickets are available on the internet at www.audi-dtm.de.
Quotes before the DTM opener at Hockenheim
Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport): "We have an ambitious goal: Audi wants to become the first automobile manufacturer to win the DTM title for the third time in a row -- that would be a perfect fit for the 100th anniversary of the Audi brand. However, we know exactly how difficult that'll be. Our competition is strong and will do everything they can to prevent that. The past few years have shown that a good start to the season is particularly important in the DTM and can definitely predetermine the outcome of the title fight. Our squad is well prepared and everyone is eager to see at Hockenheim where we really stand compared to our rivals. I'm convinced that the fans will witness a thrilling season opener."
Timo Scheider (GW:plus/Top Service Audi A4 DTM #1): "For the first time, I won't be starting a DTM season as the 'hunter' but as the 'hunted' -- this is a new as well as a very nice feeling. Of course the crucial point will be to defend the championship title. And not only for myself: After the title wins by Mattias (Ekstrom) in the 2007 season and myself, Audi now has the chance of providing the champion for the third time in a row. No manufacturer has ever achieved this feat in the DTM's 25-year history. We want to be the first to manage this. We've got the chance to do so because we've got the right team spirit, the Audi A4 DTM has seen further development -- and now it's up to us to successfully use this potential. I'm very excited about it."
Tom Kristensen (100 Jahre Audi -- A4 DTM #2): "My season with Audi started with the best results you could wish for, namely victory at Sebring together with Dindo (Capello) and Allan (McNish). I'm incredibly looking forward to the DTM as well. I'm hungry for success, absolutely motivated, want to fight for victories and, ultimately, hope to be clinching an outstanding championship result as well. The Audi A4 DTM achieved six wins last year. My pace in qualifying was good throughout the season. That's why it was disappointing that the race results weren't any better than they were, particularly at Oschersleben, at the Nurburgring, at Barcelona and at Le Mans. We've got good chances of improving in 2009."
Mattias Ekstrom (Red Bull Audi A4 DTM #5): "The 2009 season will be a real challenge. I'm very confident. Audi has a strong team. Last year I clinched three victories and a total of five podium places. We know how close the gaps are in the DTM. No doubt, we'll again be in for a thrilling fight. That's great for the fans and for us drivers. The team spirit at Audi is fantastic. I'm convinced we'll be seeing lots of tough duels and many different winners this season."
Martin Tomczyk (Red Bull Cola Audi A4 DTM #6): "We know how competitive the DTM is. In 2007, I fought for the title up to the very end, in 2008 I unfortunately didn't. Last year, there were five different race winners in the DTM. I'll do everything I can to be among them again this year. With Audi and Abt Sportsline I've got the best team behind me to tackle this task."
Mike Rockenfeller (S line Audi A4 DTM #11): "Since March 2009 another trophy has been placed in my cabinet -- the one we received for our podium position with Audi at Sebring. But the rules in the DTM are different. In 2008, we saw that only a single driver of a year-old car achieved a podium result once. That means that this year again scoring as many points as possible will be crucial. Audi Sport Team Rosberg has created the best prerequisites for this, as I was able to see for myself in Neustadt: The team has never been as well prepared as it is this year."
Markus Winkelhock (Playboy Audi A4 DTM #12): "I'm very much looking forward to my second full DTM season with Audi. After a certain amount of diversion in motorsport it was good to be able to rely on firm planning again and to concentrate on a single objective. The DTM is a perfect setting for a German driver. Three times I scored points last season. It would be great if this year I could finish among the top eight even more often."
Alexandre Premat (Audi Bank A4 DTM #14): "In 2007, my DTM debut season, I was the third-best driver of a year-old car at the end of the year. In 2008, I finished this classification in second place. So, what remains for me to wish for in 2009 ...? Last year, I drove a double program in sports and touring cars for Audi. Mike (Rockenfeller) and I won the LMS for Audi. This year, I'll only compete in a sports car at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and will be able to fully concentrate on the DTM the rest of the time. I must say that I'm really looking forward to my third season with Audi in the DTM."
Oliver Jarvis (Audi Cup A4 DTM #15): "Just a year ago, the DTM was completely new to me. I really learned to appreciate this series and was particularly happy about the way Audi and Ernst Moser welcomed me at Team Phoenix. The DTM, its races and the circuits are great. But the challenge is always tough as well. Driving a year-old car often means running in mid-field. And there's quite bit of action there. I believe combining a consistent and aggressive driving style pays off. I can hardly wait for the season to start because the 2008-spec car is a charm to drive, and Audi won the title with it last year."
Katherine Legge (Audi Collection A4 DTM #21): "It's great being able to move to Team Abt Sportsline after just one year in the DTM. Everyone knows how good the team is. It won the DTM in 2002, 2004, 2007 and 2008. I'll be at the wheel of an Audi A4 DTM from 2008. That means as many as two steps forward for me because last year I drove a car from the 2006 season. No doubt, all the right ingredients are now available. There's no more room for excuses. I'm ready and really looking forward to this challenge."
Hans-Jurgen Abt (Team Director Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline): "Basically, the season opener at Hockenheim is always a particular challenge. We're all eagerly anticipating the race because no one knows where they stand. We hope to be competitive again and able to fight for victories. In any event, the team is well prepared. The tests have shown the reliability of the current Audi A4 DTM. At Hockenheim we'll also see whether we're fast enough. Generally speaking, we're happy that after the long winter the season starts again with real racing and we can feel the surge of adrenalin again."
Ernst Moser (Team Director Audi Sport Team Phoenix): "After positive pre-tests at Dijon and Hockenheim I'm very much looking forward to the new season. We're pretty well sorted and I think that with a car from last year we can also keep up with the field pretty well this season. We received a great, fully developed car from Audi. Maybe that'll give us a small advantage over the new cars. Our drivers and the entire squad are definitely highly motivated."
Arno Zensen (Team Director Audi Sport Team Rosberg): "We're incredibly eager about starting the first race because the winter break was extremely long and the season starts very late. We used the time to work with the new Audi R8 LMS, which was a lot of fun as well and has produced our first successes. But now everyone's pawing the ground for the DTM to finally kick off."
Facts and figures
The season opener at Hockenheim is the 100th race of the "new" DTM ... Timo Scheider is the only driver in the DTM field who contested the DTM when it was relaunched back in 2000 at Hockenheim --... Mattias Ekstrom starts the new season in car number 5 -- the Swede clinched his two DTM titles in a car bearing the same number ... Audi won the opener and the finale at Hockenheim last year ... 2009 marks the ninth season, in which Audi is committed in the DTM as a manufacturer ... Mattias Ekstrom, Timo Scheider and Martin Tomczyk, as well, are each starting to their ninth DTM season at Hockenheim ... With Mattias Ekstrom (the 2004 and 2007 champion) and Timo Scheider (the 2008 champion) Audi's ranks include two of the three DTM champions still contesting the series.
Timo Scheider about the Hockenheim circuit: "Hockenheim is a modern race track with all the types of turns a track can offer: very fast turns where you drive over the curbs, hairpins and corners with large run-off areas. The atmosphere at the Motodrom is unique. Driving at the finale in front of 165,000 spectators was a feeling that produced goose bumps galore. In addition, Hockenheim is one of the few circuits that offers more than one passing opportunity. So, it's not absolutely necessary to sit on pole -- even though it's nice to do so ..."