Audi aims for 50th victory in the DTM Ingolstadt/Klettwitz -- In the 100th year of its existence, another anniversary is coming up for the Audi brand: After Tom Kristensen's triumph at the Hockenheim season opener, Audi is aiming to clinch ...
Audi aims for 50th victory in the DTM
Ingolstadt/Klettwitz -- In the 100th year of its existence, another anniversary is coming up for the Audi brand: After Tom Kristensen's triumph at the Hockenheim season opener, Audi is aiming to clinch its 50th victory in the DTM -- in which case the brand with the four rings would pass BMW on the perpetual list of the best contenders in the most popular international touring car series.
The first opportunity to achieve this ranking will present itself to the squad around Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich on May 31 at the EuroSpeedway Lausitz. Up to now, however, the circuit located 130 kilometers south of Berlin has not exactly been the Audi A4 DTM's favorite track. Audi clinched victory only once at the EuroSpeedway on its own power: In September 2005, Mattias Ekstrom prevailed against Mercedes driver Gary Paffett in an impressive duel.
Nevertheless, the names of Audi and Ekstrom appear on the winners' list of DTM races at the EuroSpeedway a second time: In 2004, the Swede inherited victory because Gary Paffett ran out of fuel after crossing the finish line and the tank of his Mercedes did not contain the residual amount of gasoline prescribed by the regulations.
After the one-two-three-four victory at the Hockenheimring, Audi comes to East Germany with a handicap: The rules require the Audi A4 DTM to start from the EuroSpeedway grid with ten kilograms more weight than the Mercedes cars. This means that part of the "Vorsprung durch Technik" advantage which Audi Sport achieved during the further development of the Audi A4 DTM in winter will be lost. At Hockenheim, the "R14 plus," which is the internal model designation of the 2009 A4 DTM version, was clearly superior to the current Mercedes C-Class.
The Audi drivers clinched a total of 31 out of 39 possible points at the season opener -- an impressive tally in which the drivers of the 2008-spec cars had a part as well. The Briton Oliver Jarvis achieved his first podium result in the DTM, the German Markus Winkelhock, in fourth place, the best result of his DTM career.
Audi could have scored even more points if Mattias Ekstrom had not lost the victory that already seemed to be sure due to a puncture on the penultimate lap. The Swede will do everything within his power to recover lost ground and has good chances to do so: The two-time DTM Champion has been on the podium six times so far at the EuroSpeedway -- more than any other current DTM driver.
Tom Kristensen, who has fond memories of the EuroSpeedway as well, comes to the venue as the front runner of the standings: The Dane, who started his last DTM season with victory at Hockenheim, achieved as many as three podium finishes at the EuroSpeedway.
Like at Hockenheim, qualifying will predetermine the outcome of the race to some extent. At the request of the TV channel, the session will only start at 2:35 pm (local time), one hour later than usual. The race will be broadcast live on "Das Erste" on Sunday at 1:45 pm as usual.
Quotes before the DTM race at the EuroSpeedway
Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport): "We created a very good base for our squad at Hockenheim but we know that in the past few years we didn't do quite so well on the EuroSpeedway. In addition, our new vehicles will be ten kilograms heavier than the current Mercedes cars because of the results at Hockenheim. And I also know that our rivals will work very hard. We're expecting a tough weekend on which we'll have to fight to clinch good results."
Tom Kristensen (100 Jahre Audi -- A4 DTM #2): "I always enjoy racing at the EuroSpeedway Lausitz. As far as the track is concerned, the tarmac has little friction. The circuit features a lot of directional changes from 180-degree turns. In the slow corners we need good balance and traction. That's where mechanical grip is crucial. I'm sure our Audi A4 DTM is good at that."
Timo Scheider (GW:plus/Top Service Audi A4 DTM #1): "The EuroSpeedway always put us in pretty trying situations in recent years. You need to squeeze out every bit of potential. Last year, I was on the podium there although we were a little slower than Mercedes. I'm hoping that we'll be able to continue our good performance from Hockenheim.""
Markus Winkelhock (Playboy Audi A4 DTM #12): "After the good season opener at Hockenheim, I'm coming to the EuroSpeedway with a positive feeling. Unfortunately, it wasn't my best track last year, when I crashed into the pit wall after a puncture and heavily damaged the car. That's why I'll try to do better this year. I'm happy that with our year-old cars we can keep up with the field pretty well. Unless that changes significantly we're in for an exciting season."
Oliver Jarvis (Audi Cup A4 DTM #15): "Of course our expectations are high, and so is our confidence. However, I'm also sure that Mercedes will be a lot faster than they were at Hockenheim -- and the 2009-spec Audi cars are likely to further improve as well. I'm expecting a tough race. I look forward to it and, hopefully, will be able to score a few more points."
Mattias Ekstrom (Red Bull Audi A4 DTM #5): "I think that with a few kilos of additional weight, the situation will be tighter than it was at Hockenheim. We won't be seeing any dominance. We'll have our work cut out for us and we need to be well prepared. One thing is sure: I really like the new car. It suits my style of driving well. That makes me happy."
Katherine Legge (Audi Collection A4 DTM #21): "I'm really looking forward to the EuroSpeedway because the season opener with my new team was a promising beginning. Last year, I had a good test at the EuroSpeedway. I hope that I'll be able to benefit from that, maybe I'll even be able to score a few points. My 2008-spec Audi is much more consistent and handles better than the car I drove last year."
Martin Tomczyk (Red Bull Cola Audi A4 DTM #6): "I'm looking forward to the EuroSpeedway. My speed in qualifying and the race was right at the Hockenheim season opener. I think I'll be able to repeat that at the EuroSpeedway. At least that's what I'm shooting for. But we also know that Mercedes was always very good there in the past. Still, our advantage at Hockenheim was pretty big. That gives me hope that we'll be strong at the EuroSpeedway too."
Mike Rockenfeller (S line Audi A4 DTM #11): "The Hockenheim season opener didn't go well for me. That's why I'm now hoping for a clearly better result. We need to find a good setup from the outset and do well in qualifying -- not like at Hockenheim when I started from position ten. Running in mid-field is always difficult and there's a risk of getting involved in an accident."
Alexandre Premat (Audi Bank A4 DTM #14): "I'm happy about returning to the EuroSpeedway Lausitz. I really, really like this circuit. Ever since I drove there for the first time I've been feeling comfortable about this track. My goal is to score points there. Even though we've got to drive with additional weight I expect our car to be very competitive in direct comparison with Mercedes. I'm motivated and out to get points."
Hans-Jurgen Abt (Team Director Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline): "After our great exploit at Hockenheim, I'm looking forward to the EuroSpeedway Lausitz. I know that our package is very competitive. Still, we need to continue working with full concentration because we've got a title to defend. The team will stay fully focused on that goal. Of course we're hoping that our success will continue at the EuroSpeedway."
Ernst Moser (Team Director Audi Sport Team Phoenix): "I don't think that the five kilos of additional ballast mean at all that we won't be competitive any more. We should be able to keep the pace of the 2008 and 2009-spec Mercedes unless they manage a major leap by the time the next race starts. I see us exactly where we were at Hockenheim again: behind the new Audi and the current Mercedes cars -- at least that's our goal."
Arno Zensen (Team Director Audi Sport Team Rosberg): "The result at Hockenheim is highly motivating. I've got pretty fond memories of the EuroSpeedway. Of course we now want both drivers to finish in the points. I think we can continue annoying the Mercedes with our year-old cars. At least, we'll try and do that again."
Facts and figures
Between the two DTM races at Hockenheim and the EuroSpeedway, Mattias Ekstrom, Mike Rockenfeller and Timo Scheider contested the 24-hour race on the Nurburgring ... The same is true for the two Audi Sport teams Abt Sportsline and Phoenix ... Timo Scheider, Mattias Ekstrom and Martin Tomczyk clinched places two, three and four last year at the EuroSpeedway ... Mattias Ekstrom was on the podium at the EuroSpeedway as many as six times ... In 2000, the DTM race at the EuroSpeedway had to be cancelled due to heavy rain ... In 2007, only half-points were awarded at the EuroSpeedway because of an incorrect deployment of the safety car ... Markus Winkelhock drove his maiden DTM race for Audi at the EuroSpeedway in 2007.
Katherine Legge about the EuroSpeedway: "I like the EuroSpeedway Lausitz. It has a bit of everything: fast and slow turns. The circuit is demanding and there are many opportunities to pass. It's one of the tracks I'm particularly looking forward to. The tarmac is nice and even. My favorite corner is turn one: I like the hard braking before entering this turn. You've got to take advantage of the high speed after the long section in the oval as long as possible, and then you really slam on the brakes."