Lausitz: Audi Motorsport qualifying report

Audi driver Premat with strong DTM comeback Frenchman is quickest Audi driver at EuroSpeedway Six place on the grid in the Audi Bank Audi A4 DTM Leader of the standings Mattias Ekstrom on position nine With a strong performance in qualifying at...

Audi driver Premat with strong DTM comeback

Frenchman is quickest Audi driver at EuroSpeedway Six place on the grid in the Audi Bank Audi A4 DTM Leader of the standings Mattias Ekstrom on position nine With a strong performance in qualifying at the EuroSpeedway Lausitz, Alexandre Premat impressively returned to the DTM: The Frenchman was the only Audi driver to make it into the top eight in the three-part "shoot-out" for the best grid positions. In the Audi Bank Audi A4 DTM, Premat secured sixth place on the starting grid for the race on Sunday (broadcast live on ARD starting at 1:45 p.m. local time) although Audi Sport Team Phoenix had to replace the upper wishbone of the left rear suspension on his A4 between the first and second section of the qualifying.

Alexandre Premat had sustained a torn lumbar vertebrae in the season opening race at Hockenheim and had to skip the race at Oschersleben. Just shortly before this weekend, the 25-year-old received medical approval to compete again in the DTM.

The Frenchman was the only Audi driver who was able to translate the weight advantage of the 2006-spec vehicles into a good grid position in qualifying. His team-mate Christian Abt as well as Mike Rockenfeller and Lucas Luhr were already eliminated in the first section.

Only by a small margin, the leader of the standings, Mattias Ekstrom, missed making it into the top eight. At the very last moment, the Swede was bumped to position nine. His team-mates Timo Scheider and Martin Tomczyk will start the race from positions ten and eleven. Due to the regulations, their newest-generation Audi A4 DTM cars are 28 kilograms heavier at the EuroSpeedway than the new C-Class from Mercedes, which -- as computer simulations have shown -- costs almost half a second per lap.

Quotes after qualifying

Dr Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport): "It's disappointing to have only one car among the top eight. Although we knew it would be very difficult here for our 2007-spec cars, we had been hoping to achieve better places with our cars from 2006. Alex (Premat) has shown what is possible with such a car. We need to take a look at why the differences between the 2006-spec cars were so great. Now the only thing we can do in the race is to pursue the strategy of scoring as many points as possible. That's what we have to prepare for."

Alexandre Premat (Audi Bank Audi A4 DTM #17): "I'm very happy for Audi to have clinched sixth place in qualifying. But I'm a little disappointed about having made a few mistakes that cost me two, three tenths of a second. Otherwise, I could have even achieved a place further towards the front. I'm strictly surrounded by Mercedes drivers. That's a real challenge! I want to have a good start and finish in the points."

Mattias Ekstrom (Red Bull Audi A4 DTM #3): "That was a pretty tough qualifying! I gave everything and drove without making any mistakes. But we were simply not quick enough. For the race, we need to come up with more speed in order to move further towards the front."

Timo Scheider (Gebrauchtwagen:plus/Top Service Audi A4 DTM #8): "The qualifying was good in terms of the car and the team. It was the maximum of what was possible today. All laps were clean, but in the last two outings, in turn 9, there was dirt on the inside line. When I started braking, I encountered abrupt understeer there. Otherwise I might have been able to make it into the top eight, but we knew all along that it would be difficult."

Martin Tomczyk (Red Bull Audi A4 DTM #4): "We knew beforehand that we wouldn't be able to run at the very front of the field. But the fact that now we're in a pack right in the middle on places nine to eleven is a bit unfortunate too. I did expect that one or two of our cars would make into the last segment. As far as the way the weekend went, I'm satisfied because I had big problems in two turns, which I was able to solve. Now I'm on a par with Mattias (Ekstrom) and Timo (Scheider)."

Adam Carroll (Audi A4 DTM #20): "It was good making it into the second section again. We were having difficulties, though, repeating our performances from the tests. In the DTM, there's a lot of driving up to qualifying, which means that many drivers are able to make up ground after running behind in the beginning. I used the car's full potential. Our grid position is better than last time. We can expect a nice race with a good result."

Mike Rockenfeller (S line Audi A4 DTM #11): "I'm pretty disappointed because, for the first time, I didn't make it into the second qualifying segment. I thought this was going to happen at some point in time but didn't expect it to be the case here of all places."

Lucas Luhr (Philips Audi A4 DTM #12): "We were at least able to improve for the qualifying. For the first time, I set a time below 1m 20s. Perhaps I could have even been faster but I had a big slide because the tyres had degraded somewhat. This way, a better result just wasn't possible."

Christian Abt (Playboy Audi A4 DTM #16): "In my first outing I made a slight mistake. I drove through the gravel trap and damaged my front splitter in the process. After that, the car was understeering heavily. That's really a shame considering what my team-mate Alex achieved today. Now I need to make up ground in the race."

Markus Winkelhock (Siemens Audi A4 DTM #7): "I'm not really happy because I'd been hoping for a better result. In free practice I was only one tenth of a second away from the 2007-spec cars. In qualifying, I was unlucky in my first outing because a car in front was throwing dirt onto the track, which forced me to end the lap. On the second set of tyres I made two mistakes of my own. I was lacking three tenths to Mattias (Ekstrom) -- that way I didn't get ahead any further."

Vanina Ickx (Audi A4 DTM #21): "I'm worried about the fact that I'm beginning to get used to this position. Particularly on this circuit it's difficult for me to improve my times. That's why I don't know either what to expect of the race. My goal has to be to drive as consistently as possible and to improve."

Hans-Jurgen Abt (Team Director Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline): "If I'm really honest, I have to say that I was afraid of a result like this: We knew the weight of our vehicles this weekend and could therefore figure out what our gap would be to those in front of us. Our squad is lined up firmly, Mattias (Ekstrom) almost made it into the top eight. Our vocabulary does not contain a word like 'surrender': Tomorrow we're going to fight and use our full potential."

Ernst Moser (Team Director Audi Sport Team Phoenix): "The trend is pointing upwards for our team. Having Alex Premat as the best Audi driver in qualifying, does fill us with a certain sense of pride. Christian Abt, unfortunately, made a mistake in the first segment, and he drove through the gravel trap. The splitter was damaged, the car kept understeering after that. Too bad! I'm that, otherwise, he would have finished far at the front. "

Arno Zensen (Team Director Audi Sport Team Rosberg): "I'm totally confused. Actually, we should have been the second-strongest power here. But we aren't, and we don't know why yet."

-credit: audi.de

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About this article
Series DTM
Drivers Vanina Ickx , Lucas Luhr , Martin Tomczyk , Timo Scheider , Christian Abt , Mattias Ekström , Adam Carroll , Alexandre Prémat , Mike Rockenfeller , Markus Winkelhock , Hans-Jurgen Abt
Teams Team Abt , Phoenix Racing , Audi Sport Team Rosberg