Zandvoort has been known as an "Audi track" in the DTM (Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters) circles for quite some time, with the Abt Audi having dominated the Dutch stop on the DTM circuit for the past few years. However, the top works Audis were ...
Zandvoort has been known as an "Audi track" in the DTM (Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters) circles for quite some time, with the Abt Audi having dominated the Dutch stop on the DTM circuit for the past few years.
However, the top works Audis were nowhere to be found in final qualifying, and it was Oliver Jarvis clinching the top starting position with a 2008-spec Audi A4. It was the first for Jarvis, who is in his second season of DTM, and more notably the first-ever for an older-model car.
"Wow, what a great moment," Jarvis smiled. "Not just for me, but also for my squad from Audi Sport Team Phoenix. We (have) experienced two unfortunate weekends together, so we're all the more relieved by this result today. But no matter how great this feeling is now, we know that the race tomorrow will be tough and will strictly concentrate on that from now on."
Jarvis -- and his Audi teammate Mike Rockenfeller, who qualified fourth, also in a 2008-spec car -- did benefit from the baseline setup data from last year's race, but that detracts little from the two young drivers' achievement.
"Oliver Jarvis' performance in a year-old car cannot be emphasized enough," said Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, the head of Audi Motorsport. "He was in control of qualifying and clinched pole on the crucial lap by posting all the fastest sector times. We've always known that he's got this kind of potential -- and today he impressively proved it. Now, we've got to get together and analyze why our current cars are not on the positions where they belong."
The current cars were indeed strangely off the pace: of the four top Audi drivers, only Martin Tomczyk managed to make his way into the third qualifying segment, and there he was mired at the bottom of the times, finishing qualifying in eighth place. Mattias Ekstrom, Tom Kristensen and Timo Scheider had to settle for ninth through eleventh grid positions.
In the final qualifying, then, it was Jarvis and Rockenfeller in their older Audis, facing off against the Mercedes of Gary Paffett and Bruno Spengler. None were a match for Jarvis, as the young Englishman ran away to the top of the grid with a perfect lap, beating Paffett by an impressive 0.586 seconds.
"In today's changeable conditions it was difficult to judge how fast I could go," said Paffett. "I made a small mistake in the single-lap qualifying, otherwise a better time would have been possible. I am happy with second place on the grid. Of course, I would prefer to be on pole but on this twisty track it is important to start from the front row."
Spengler, too, made a mistake, losing time at the Kumhobocht corner on his hot lap in the final qualifying.
"A better time was possible," the Canadian rued his final qualifying performance. "However, at the penultimate corner of the single-lap qualifying I hit a dirty spot, my wheels locked and I slid off the racing line for a moment."
Rockenfeller was just happy to be in the final four with the tire problems he was experiencing; the 25-year-old German just made it through from Q3 on a set of tires that were not working for him, and he had to continue on the same set in the final qualifying segment.
"On the last set of tires in qualifying 3 I had incredible problems," Rockenfeller recalled. "I don't know why, but I had no traction whatsoever. I also had to use this set in Q4. That meant it had already completed two timed laps in Q3. Unfortunately, more than fourth place wasn't possible that way."
With the works Audis struggling, the Mercedes teams took advantage, and Paul di Resta took the fifth starting spot for the Stuttgart manufacturer, pipping Alexandre Premat -- in another 2008-spec Audi -- by one thousandth of a second. Jamie Green was seventh, four hundredths in front of Tomczyk, the first of the new Audis.
The challenge and opportunity are now one and the same for Jarvis. Having made history with the first pole for a year-old DTM car, can he follow up with a victory in tomorrow's 41-lap race?
"I am not worrying too much," smiled Jarvis. "Starting from pole, I have it all in my hands!"